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United States Army Biological Warfare Laboratories

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The US Army Biological Warfare Laboratories USBWL were a suite of research laboratories and pilot plant centers operating at Camp later Fort Detrick, Maryland, USA beginning in 1943 under the control of the US Army Chemical Corps Research and Development Command The USBWL undertook pioneering research and development into biocontainment, decontamination, gaseous sterilization, and agent production and purification for the US offensive biological warfare program1 The Laboratories and their projects were discontinued in 1969

Contents

  • 1 History
    • 11 Origins
    • 12 World War II
    • 13 Cold War
    • 14 Disestablishment
  • 2 Operations
  • 3 Work-related deaths
  • 4 Reunions
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References

Historyedit

Researchers working with Class III cabinets at the USBWL, Camp Detrick, Maryland 1940s Cabinet air was filtered and drawn by negative pressure from the room and cabinet systems

Originsedit

The USBWL were created after Secretary of War Henry L Stimson requested the National Academy of Sciences NAS in 1941 to review the feasibility of biological warfare BW The following year, the NAS reported that BW might be feasible and recommended that steps be taken to reduce US vulnerability to BW attack Thereafter, the official policy of the United States was first to deter the use of BW against US forces, and secondarily to retaliate if deterrence failed

World War IIedit

Throughout the war years, Dr Ira L Baldwin, professor of bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, was scientific director of the Laboratories2

Cold Waredit

The USBWL were the United States' front-line defense against BW during the first half of the Cold War

Disestablishmentedit

In 1969, the USBWL ceased to exist when President Richard Nixon disestablished all offensive BW studies and directed the destruction of all stock piles of BW agents and munitions

Operationsedit

At Fort Detrick, the USBWL consisted of various labs and divisions, including:

  • The Safety "S" Division, first to be activated 1943
    • Biological Protection Branch
  • The Special Operations or Projects Division 1949–68, the most highly classified work
    • Conducted hundreds of field tests of aerosolized simulants;
    • Investigated and developed drugs for use in "brainwashing" and interrogation
  • Planning Pilot-Engineering PP-E Division
  • The Crops Division called "Plant Sciences Laboratories" after 1966, evaluated thousands of compounds for herbicidal activity including Agent Orange; see Herbicidal warfare
  • The Basic Science Division
  • Division B, pursued anthrax vaccine work, etc

The USBWL was also a parent facility overseeing testing and production centers elsewhere, including:

  • Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas
  • Horn Island, Mississippi
  • Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, including Granite Peak Installation
  • Vigo Ordnance Plant, near Terre Haute, Indiana

Work-related deathsedit

Three deaths related to occupational bio-agent exposures occurred during the USBWL program Additionally, an unnamed lieutenant died in a pump explosion in Building 201 in 1943

  • William Allen Boyles, a 46-year-old microbiologist, contracted anthrax and died on 25 November 1951 Broyles Street, on Fort Detrick, is named in his honor
  • Joel Eugene Willard, a 53-year-old electrician, died in 1958 after contracting pulmonary anthrax Willard Place, on Fort Detrick, is named in his honor
  • Albert Nickel, a 53-year-old animal caretaker, died in 1964 after being bitten by an animal infected with Machupo virus Nickel Place, on Fort Detrick, is named in his honor

The Army made details of these deaths public in 1975

Reunionsedit

The "Fort Detrick Reunion Group" met most years between 1991 and 2008 when they disbanded for lack of participants When they met at Nallin Pond in 1994, their numbers peaked at 400, consisting of a diverse group of USBWL participants, ranging from animal caretakers to top scientists3

See alsoedit

  • Building 470
  • Fort Terry
  • One-Million-Liter Test Sphere

Referencesedit

  1. ^ Martin, James W, George W Christopher and Edward M Eitzen 2007, “History of Biological Weapons: From Poisoned Darts to Intentional Epidemics”, In: Dembek, Zygmunt F 2007, Medical Aspects of Biological Warfare, Series: Textbooks of Military Medicine, Washington, DC: The Borden Institute, pg 5
  2. ^ "A History of Fort Detrick, Maryland", by Norman M Covert 4th Edition, 2000
  3. ^ Tucker, Pat 2011, "Reunion Group Continues to Give to Fort Detrick Community", Fort Detrick Standard, 23 June 2011, pg 4

Coordinates: 39°26′8″N 77°25′38″W / 3943556°N 7742722°W / 3943556; -7742722

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United States Army Biological Warfare Laboratories


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