US Cold War biological weapons, human radiation, and war psych experiments

Sept. 28, 1994 US House of Reps hearing on US human radiation experiments, biological weapons testing and war psych experiments,
testimony by Representative Martin Sabo:

“During the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. Army conducted numerous
open-air experiments of biological and chemical warfare methods
in Minneapolis and other areas of greater Minnesota, the United
States and Canada . These tests involved the spraying of varying
quantities of zinc cadmium sulfide, a fluorescent powder, to
simulate dispersion patterns of actual biological or chemical
agents .

At the time, the Army considered zinc cadmium sulfide to be
a harmless stibstance. However, numerous Hinnesotans, including
former students of an elementary school downwind of several tests
conducted in Minneapolis in 1952, now suffer from various adverse
health effects ranging from reproductive difficulties to cancer.
They wonder if their illnesses are linked to the tests to which
they were unwittingly subjected.

The enclosed reports detail the known or probable adverse
htiman health effects of cadmium, the most toxic ingredient in
zinc cadmium sulfide. One of the reports, a paper by Dr. Leon
Prodan published in 1932 — a full two decades before the
Minneapolis sprayings, asserts that inhalation or ingestion of
even small amounts of cadmium or its compounds can pose serious
dangers to human health. “

r. CONYERS. “Marty, we have 239 cities involved in what hap-
pened to your city. Minneapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Toledo, Spring-
field, IL — we are trying to make sure that the names of these cities
are declassified so they can be released. If they are not declassified,
I am going to ask that that happen right away.”

From the 1995 Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments

Thursday, March 16, 1995

Attending: Ruth Faden, Kenneth Feinberg, Eli Glatstein, Jay Katz,
Patricia King, Susan Lederer, Ruth Macklin, Lois Norris, Nancy
Oleinick, Henry Royal, Mary Ann Stevenson, Duncan Thomas, Reed
Tuckson.

Statement of Senator Wellstone

“Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota addressed the Committee
and urged members to investigate thoroughly the concerns of armed
services veterans exposed in connection with weapons tests. He
recounted the experience of Minnesota veterans who today feel
misled and neglected by their government because of health
problems they ascribe to exposures in the nuclear tests.
He noted the disclosure of fragmentary evidence of secret
Veterans Administration files on veterans exposed during weapons
testing. The senator informed the Committee of a preliminary
study by the National Academy of Sciences that is considering
whether it is feasible to do a full-scale medical follow-up
study.
He added that the Committee s analysis of intentional
releases, though predicated on radiation exposures, might well
apply to the spraying of zinc cadmium sulfide over many cities,
including Minneapolis, as part of dispersal studies for
biological and chemical warfare purposes in the 1950s and 1960s.
Members questioned Senator Wellstone about the Committee s
scope of inquiry regarding exposures to veterans; ethical
criteria to judge intentional releases; and eligibility rules in
existing radiation exposure compensation laws.”

Biological weapons production in the US from WWII through 1969

“During World War II, research, development and pilot-scale production of biological weapons was centered at Fort (then Camp) Detrick, in Maryland. Large-scale production was planned to take place at a plant near Terre Haute, Indiana, built in 1944 for the production of anthrax and the filling of anthrax bombs. Equipped with twelve 20,000-gallon fermentors, it was capable of producing fill for 500,000 British-designed 4-pound anthrax bombs a month. Although the United Kingdom had placed an order for anthrax bombs in 1944 and the plant was ready for weapons production by the following summer, the war ended without anthrax having actually been produced.

Contrary to the view that biological weapons are easy to develop, by the end of the war Fort Detrick comprised some 250 buildings and employed approximately 3,400 people, some engaged in defensive work but many in the development and pilot production of weapons. Several years after the end of the war, the Indiana plant was demilitarized and leased to industry for production of antibiotics. It was replaced by a more modern and flexible biological weapons production facility constructed at Pine Bluff Arsenal, in Arkansas, which began production late in 1954 and operated until 1969.

A major effort of the 1950s was encompassed under Project St. Jo, a program to develop, test, produce, and deploy anthrax bombs to Europe for possible use against Soviet cities. In order to determine quantitative munitions requirements, 173 releases of (zinc cadmium sulfide) aerosols were secretly conducted in Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Winnipeg — cities chosen to have the approximate range of conditions of climate, urban and industrial development, and topography that would be encountered in the major potential target cities of the USSR. The weapon to be used was a cluster bomb holding 536 biological bomblets, each containing 35 ml of a liquid suspension of anthrax spores and a small explosive charge fuzed to detonate upon impact with the ground, thereby producing an infectious aerosol to be inhaled by persons downwind. In later years, anthrax was abandoned as a standardized US lethal biological agent and replaced with a lethal strain of tularemia, a much less persistent and more predictable agent. Other agents — the bacteria of brucellosis, the rickettsia of Q-fever, and the virus of Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis, all more incapacitating than lethal, as well as fungi for the destruction of rice and wheat crops — were also introduced into the US bioweapons stockpile, along with improved munitions for high-altitude delivery and spray tanks for delivery of agents by low-flying aircraft. According to published accounts these developments culminated in a major series of biological weapons field tests using various animals as targets, conducted at sea in the South Pacific in 1968.”

Meselson, Matthew. 1999. Excerpt from “The problem of biological weapons.”

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