The Department of Homeland Security is planning to test chemical and biological agents at the former Chilocco Indian School campus in Oklahoma in early 2018, and they are being met with protests from people concerned that they aren’t being given the whole truth about the tests.
According to a letter from Homeland Security, the Science and Technology Directorate announced the availability of a draft EA for performing a collaborative scientific study with OSU-University Multispectral Laboratories, L. L. C. (UML) the would include “low level outdoor release of inert chemical and biological simulant materials at the Chilocco (former) Indian School campus outside of Newkirk, OK…”
That letter states that the purpose of the testing is to “gather data that enhances our predictive capabilities in the event of a biological agent attack. ”
“Specifically, this work will help in predicting the extent to which an intentional release of a biological agent may penetrate single family and multi-family structures,” the letter adds.
There is 30-day window for comments from the public to DHS that began on November 8, 2017.
Now, consider the horrible and inefficient manner in which DHS has operated in the past in the case of hurricanes, flooding and the unconstitutional measures they employ at the airport.
Yet, we are also told by DHS, “The HODOR [Hazards of Dynamic Outdoor Releases] program supports DHS’s strategic goals to detect and recover from biological attacks and inform and support biodefense planning, response, and restoration, particularly in consequence/risk assessment modeling of the indoor hazards posed by outdoor aerosols.”
DHS assures us that the materials they are going to release are “safe,” and what are those materials? According to their website:
- Inert Particle 1 is titanium dioxide (TiO2), a white odorless, non-hazardous, non-flammable, and non-reactive powder that does not dissolve in water. Titanium dioxide is commonly used in paints, food, cosmetics, and insecticides. As an example, sunscreens containing titanium dioxide are recommended by medical experts to effectively block certain harmful UV rays.1 Titanium dioxide is not regulated or defined as a toxic or hazardous material.
- Inert Particle 2 is a 90:10% mixture of urea powder with CL Fluorescent Brightener 220. Urea is the main chemical found in human and mammalian urine and is used worldwide as a fertilizer. CL Fluorescent Brightener 220 is a non-hazardous optical brighter found in toothpastes and laundry detergents to make whites appear brighter.
- The Biological Particulate will be a preparation of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp kurstaki (Btk) spores that have been “barcoded.” Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki is a microbe found on plants and in soils everywhere, is nonhazardous to humans, and used widely by farmers nationally to kill specific crop destroying insects, particularly those employing organic gardening practices. These spores can be purchased for home-use at stores selling gardening supplies, and are considered safer than traditional chemical pesticides. The “barcode” in these materials will allow DHS and our performer to conclusively identify the material we use from any that might occur naturally or be used by a farmer on nearby fields. This material simulates the kind of material that might be used in a bioterrorist attack on U.S. citizens.
According to DHS, ” These materials are meant to simulate the behavior of harmful biological materials as they move from the outdoors into buildings.”
A question is then posted on the DHS website, “If these materials being used in testing are safe, why are the workers wearing goggles, gloves, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) during testing?”
These standard precautions are recommended by OSHA for all individuals who are working in conditions that may result in exposure to particulates, as such exposure could cause irritation of the eyes or skin. Examples include painters, individuals who may be sanding drywall or painted surfaces, or farmers or other professionals applying fertilizers and pesticides.
Despite the extremely low hazards posed by the materials we propose to test, the individuals who will conduct the actual release will be required to work with the materials in their most concentrated form. They are therefore at the highest risk of an accident such as splashing into the eyes, or being irritated by exposure to the particulate sprays. These are also standard safety recommendations found on the labels of similar commercial products.
So, they do admit that the materials will be in their “most concentrated form” and that there is a significant risk to the people doing the testing.
Wouldn’t this lead to questioning what it will actually do to the land and even water in the area?
Let’s say you or I dumped some of this is a creek and the EPA discovered we did it, do you think we would be in trouble for polluting the creek, or could we simply point to the DHS website and say, “Look you guys said it was perfectly safe.” Think that would fly? I think not.
Still, DHS claims they are complying with the National Environmental Policy Act.
The resident of Chilocco and those in the surrounding area aren’t buying it either and have protested the tests.
A small demonstration against the testing took place Sunday along U.S. Highway 77 near the Oklahoma-Kansas border, and public meetings in Newkirk and Ark City were set up for later this week, according to a new Facebook site called Stop Chemical Testing at Chilocco.
An online petition at www.change.org against the testing — scheduled for January and February and June and July of next year — had almost 5,000 supports as of Monday afternoon.
The petition, started by Jill Wineigner of Arkansas City, states that there is a school about one mile away, and people grow crops in the area and play “right next door.” Residents are concerned about groundwater, air quality and long-term pollutions.
“We are simply opposed to any plan of any testing of chemicals in this area,” the petition states. “There is no way that you could possible know the long term effects that this may have on our community.”
However, even representatives of the people oppose the testing.
Newkirk City Manager Jane Thomas wrote a letter to the city commission. According to her, the testing “because it could contaminate the air and water in the area. Most community members are upset about this possibility — city and rural.”
“As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, I have numerous questions regarding this proposed test,” Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS) said. “While it’s important for our federal agencies to test their abilities in response to threats, we need to be one hundred percent certain this test is safe for the residents of South Central Kansas.”
“What I wish is to have our citizens fully informed,” said Rep. Anita Judd-Jenkins (R-KS). “I also have every intention of continuing my pursuit of having our Kansas air, water, and land tested to assure out safety and … our environment.”
A Facebook page has been set up called Stop Chemical Testing at Chilocco for those interested in following developments.
In the midst of the government conducting tests and claiming they are safe, just remember that I reported at the beginning of the month that a couple of congressmen are attempting to find out about secret Army spraying that occurred during the Cold War and the American people were not told about it, and yet, several people believe they and others contracted cancers due to that spraying which was said to be “safe.”
I say if DHS thinks it so important and so safe, let them conduct it in their own buildings. Let’s see how they react to that suggestion.