Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Vets blast SHAD study

Above: The crew of a 'Project SHAD' dispersal mission. SHAD (Shipboard Hazard and Defense) was part of the larger 'Project 112', which in the 1960s tested potential chemical and biological warfare threats on land and sea. Early experiments involved two Liberty ships, but expanded to include submarines, barges, tugs and aircraft for airborne dispersal of nerve agents, tularamia, anthrax, parrot fever, Q fever, botulism and Rocky Moutain spotted fever, usually laced with radioactive particles for tracing. The tests used thousands of servicemembers as guinea pigs.

A group of Navy veterans says that findings from a study of the health effects of at-sea biological and chemical weapons testing on thousands of sailors 40 years ago are flawed because the study ignored those with the highest levels of exposure...

Findings from a medical records survey and questionnaire mailed to more than 6,000 sailors who were aboard 22 Navy ships and Army tugs during the tests cast doubt on claims that exposure to the tests led to severe medical problems in ensuing years.

The findings, released last month, found that participants had higher death rates from cardiovascular disease and had higher self-reported rates of memory loss, attention problems and neurodegenerative disorders than a group of sailors who did not participate in Project SHAD, or Shipboard Hazard and Defense. But scientists were unable to point to medical links between these problems and the real and simulated chemical and biological weapons used during the tests...

But retired Cmdr. John Alderson, who served as a commanding officer of the five Army light tugs — numbered 2080, 2081, 2085, 2086 and 2087 — that were a central part of the tests, said the study was incomplete because it failed to include many of the sailors who served on the tugs, at a test laboratory on Johnston Island — a small island about 700 miles west of Pearl Harbor — and at a base near Pearl Harbor where the weapons were mixed.

Read the rest at Navy Times