Anthrax. Q fever. Botulism toxin.
These are among the micro-organisms and toxins that Dugway Proving Ground will test after the base resumes its defensive chemical and germ warfare experiments, probably more than a month from now.Col. Frank J. Cox, Dugway's commander, told the Deseret News last week that testing may begin after a monthlong series of shakedown checks of the revamped Baker Lab. That timetable is dependent, he said, upon the lab receiving the go-ahead from state and federal experts in a visit on Wednesday. Biological testing has not taken place at the base for the past six years.
Dugway is proposing to build a new Life Sciences Test Facility for biological defense testing at the base, located about 70 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
Meanwhile, Dugway has spent millions of dollars renovating three rooms inside its Baker Laboratory for pathogen testing. The base is located in a remote part of Tooele County.
Downwinders, the military watchdog group, recently obtained a list of germs and toxins that Dugway will test, after the group filed a Freedom of Information Act request.
"The following is a list of pathogens and toxins proposed to be used," wrote Major Allen R. Pearson of the command judge advocate's office at Dugway. "This is tentative information until operation plans are completed and approved."
Under micro-organisms, Pearson listed Bacillus anthracis, the germ that causes anthrax; Coxiella brunetti, Ohio strain, which is related to the germ that causes Q fever; and an organism called Yersinia pestis attenuated strain EV76.
Under toxins, Pearson listed Staphylococcal enterotoxin B, T-2 toxin and Botulinum toxin A. The first is a staph toxin, while the last is asssociated with botulism.
"Clearly they're planning a series of tests with some deadly viruses and toxins," said Steve Erickson, spokesman for Downwinders.
"While that in and of itself is not surprising - it's what we anticipated - the question remains: Is it necessary to use live viruses and toxins? We believe, no. These detection devices could be adequately tested using simulant organisms."
Erickson said Downwinders at first was refused the information it sought about organisms and toxins to be tested. An earlier letter from Pearson said, "The list of pathogens you request in Paragraph 4 (of Downwinders' request) is classified and must be forwarded to higher headquarters . . . for their review and release determination, with direct response to you."
But two weeks later, Pearson wrote to Erickson, saying he had received a telephone call from headquarters "giving me permission to release the list."
However, another list that Erickson seeks - what he calls the "Pandora's icebox" of pathogens that he thinks are frozen at Dugway - he didn't get. "You will hear directly from (headquarters) regarding the list of all pathogens stored for future tests at DPG (Dugway Proving Ground) because this list is classified," Pearson wrote.
"The Army has said all along that their biological defense research program is an open and unclassified program," Erickson charged. "They've said this for years, repeatedly.
"And then the minute someone from the public requests specific information, it's classified."
It's possible that Downwinders will receive more information in response to the request, he said, so it is premature for the group to consider appealing to get material it has not yet received.
Erickson isn't satisfied with the information obtained. "We asked for quantities, schedules, protocols," he said. "So they told us the what, but they didn't tell us the how or the when or the how much - and they still can't justify the why," he said.
He wondered why the Army needs a BL-3 biological aerosol test facility, when Cox said the Baker Lab is already a state-of-the-art facility.
In an environmental report released in November 1990, Dugway said it wanted the new facility because Baker Laboratory was established in 1952 and, with necessary repairs, "it is estimated that Baker Laboratory has a limited life expectancy."
The continued push for biological defense research is questionable, Erickson said, given the United States' "avowed intent to eliminate chemical and biological weapons."