2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 4 Aug 2003 14:36:15 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Lab equipment found at Gerstle dump
Lab equipment found at Gerstle dump
By Diana Campbell
Aug 4, 2003

Contractors working at an abandoned Gerstle River dump unearthed lab
equipment used during the United State's foray into chemical warfare

No nerve gas or germ warfare agents were found, but the 40-year-old test
tube racks, litmus paper holders and other debris were tangible proof of
the military's top secret exercises during the Cold War.

"It was almost like going back into time" said David Westerman, an
environmental engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

_From 1962 to 1967, the Army dispersed sarin and VX gas near the Gerstle
River. The object was to test what effect deadly nerve agents had on
military clothing and vehicles in arctic conditions. In an effort to
clean up the remnants of those experiments, the Corps hired contractor
Paug-Vik Development Corp. to excavate the dump located 20 miles
southeast of Delta Junction, on the Alaska Highway.

It was the last of five dumps from the testing era to be examined. The
site was excavated in late July.

The lab equipment was harmless as it was decontaminated after every use,
according to a former officer who worked on the testing and has since
been hired by the Corps to monitor the clean up, Westerman said.

The Corps' contractor uncovered 20 crushed 55-gallon drums that may have
been the source of a trichloroethene spill, Westerman said. Most if not
all of TCE-contaminated soil was removed. Soil test results that will
confirm all the contamination has been removed will be ready in a couple
of weeks, he said.

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