Sarin Unaccounted For At U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground

A new internal US Army investigation found that the most deadly chemical and biological agents known to man were improperly handled and tracked at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground. Dugway was the focus of international headlines in a 2015 investigation which found that "egregious safety failures" over the period of a decade resulted in the shipping of live anthrax spores to 194 laboratories located in 50 states and nine foreign countries via commercial shipping companies like FedEx. At the time of the 2015 scandal, over two dozen personnel at Dugway were treated for potential anthrax exposure, and an Army review board disciplined ten civilian and military overseers, which included "career-killing" reprimands of the base commander, Brig. Gen. William King.

As reported by the Army Times, the latest investigation conducted by the DoD Inspector General (IG), specifically identified failed protocols and oversight while tracking inventories of sarin nerve agent. Sarin is deadly in extremely small amounts and even at low concentrations. Dugway also handles and tests other well-known nerve agents like VX. The Pentagon has described facilities like Dugway as ground zero for the “high-risk, zero-defects world of biological select agents program."

The Salt Lake City facility has been rife with accidents and failures in protocol over recent years. A 2011 incident involving a misplaced vial of less than 1 milliliter of VX (or less than a quarter-teaspoon) sent the 800,000 acre base into complete lockdown. The crisis was resolved when the VX vial was found to have been mislabeled.


Anthrax growing in a lab dish. Source: AgriLife Today/Flickr

The new 2017 report entitled, The Army Needs to Improve Controls Over Chemical Surety Materials, included specifics on the alarming recent case which involved missing sarin. According to the Army Times:

Additionally, Dugway officials did not “immediately notify the chemical materials accountability officer” of a 1.5 milliliter shortage of sarin discovered during an April 19, 2016, inventory. That amount is enough to cause death within minutes, according to the CDC.

The report further identified routine use of insufficient containers for deadly agents, primarily by contractors, which contradicts Army protocol for storage and handling. Tracking chain of custody is essential in accounting for theft, leaks, or natural evaporation, but one authorized contractor was found to be using plastic containers with resealable tape instead of the standard stainless steel cylinders with tamper-resistant seals. According to the IG report, this "provides no assurance that only authorized personnel had access to chemical surety materials." The report concludes of chain of custody protocols that,

By not fully implementing the Army’s accountability controls and not having adequate oversight and guidance, the Army is at increased risk that chemical surety materials are not properly stored and accounted for at Dugway and the contractor.


Dugway Proving Ground. Source: Global Security

Looming in the background is the 2001 anthrax bio-terror attack, which began a mere seven days after 9/11. In the ensuing months a total of five people died after exposure to anthrax spores which had been mailed to US media and Senate offices. The FBI systematically focused its field investigation on US military labs because of the likelihood that such an advanced bio-weapon could only be procured in a government lab.

The eight-year final FBI investigation implicated Army scientist Bruce E. Ivins who worked at the Fort Detrick bio-defense lab in Maryland (he committed suicide in 2008). But subsequent studies, including a 2011 study produced by the National Academy of Sciences and a 2014 investigation by the Government Accountability Office cast severe doubts on the FBI's findings, and culpability has remained the subject of debate and scrutiny.

Disturbingly, the string of mishaps and carelessness which saw live anthrax mailed by FedEx all across the country and other parts of the world (even reaching South Korea and Australia) which marked Dugway's prior scandal occurred significantly after the 2001 attacks. The fact that the DoD's new report still finds continuing significant problems at Dugway involving nearly indetectable lethal chemical and biological agents going unaccounted for should be cause for growing alarm, but the latest findings have still gone largely unreported in national media.

Comments

French Bloke Dammit Walter Mon, 07/10/2017 - 18:26 Permalink

Perhaps there should be a resolution in the UN to attack America due to them having every kind of WMD known to man and they pose an existential threat to just about everybody. That would be consistent with current UN policy would it not? Wouldn't that be a nice reminder to people of what they are doing to various nations around the world? And when one considers their use of such weapons, aka sarin in Syria, depleted uranium in Iraq and Serbia, not to mention nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the Jap surrender plea was ignored, it's plain to see the logic behind such a motion.Only dreaming... But I forgot the UN is bought and paid for by the US barring a few brave holdouts.

In reply to by Dammit Walter

effendi French Bloke Tue, 07/11/2017 - 07:23 Permalink

What Jap surrender plea? The Jap government was willing to fight on to the last man, woman and child but Emporer Hirohito forced them to accept surrender. There was even the early stages of a coup against the Emporer plotted by some hardliners to avoid surrender. As it was the dropping of the bombs saved about a million Allied troops from dying and 50 million plus Japanese had an invasion of the main islands occurred.

In reply to by French Bloke

AlaricBalth Dammit Walter Mon, 07/10/2017 - 22:06 Permalink

After direct inhalation of a lethal dose, it takes a human as little as 60 seconds to die.

First symptoms after inhaling Sarin has include a runny nose, tightness in the chest and constriction of the pupils.

The gas has no taste or smell, so victims can breath in lethal dose without realizing.

Within two minutes, victim begins to lose control of bodily functions; vomiting and defecating.

Two to three minutes later, victims begin to twitch or jerk.

Within 10 minutes, muscle spasms have made breathing incredibly difficult.

The victim becomes comatose and eventually suffocates in a series of spasms or eventual paralysis

In reply to by Dammit Walter

Hikikomori junction Mon, 07/10/2017 - 17:45 Permalink

I doubt it.  Not enough for a bomb, and Sarin is easy to make - any country with an insecticide factory can make it by the gallon - look at the Japanese Aum Shinrykyo - a private group that made Sarin on their own.   There is a reason chemical weapons are called "the poor man's nuke".

In reply to by junction

Yog Soggoth junction Mon, 07/10/2017 - 18:28 Permalink

No! Why is it even there? We already know what sarin is, and what it does. It can be rendered ineffective. What would a contractor be doing with this crap anyways? Anthrax was a good jewish/native american band in the day, but why are we making it? We got nukes folks. That is all the destruction anyone needs to feel safe against the next big threat. Shut that place down.

In reply to by junction

Anteater wmbz Mon, 07/10/2017 - 17:59 Permalink

That's nothin', the Air Force is still missing that 6th nuclear cruise missile transported from Minot to Louisiana, as an Israeli freighter waited at the dock, and has never successfully explained where the order came down from (cruise missiles are ALWAYS transported in crates, NEVER armed and on wing pods). And the Pentagon has never found the missing $6.3 TRILLION that Rumsfeld was forced to admit on 910, befoe the Israelis danced on rooftops, and three Israeli leased office towers magically fell at free-fall speed to the earth. The Pentagon never found out whether Israel hacked all their military and civilian employee PII data in 2012, then all their defense contractors' business and banking information a year later, compromising every single transaction since that has been 'lost track of'.The Pentagon couldn't give three shits they burned through their 2017 budget by May and created a Constitutiinal crisis, whether to raise the National Debt to cover it up. They have NO IDEA where all the $100Bs a year is disappearing to now.

In reply to by wmbz