WASHINGTON -- A 1966 report to the U.S. Army's biological warfare laboratory, just released by the government, details what critics are calling the largest open-air germ warfare test yet to be disclosed.
Documents obtained by the Church of Scientology show a chemical used to simulate the dispersion of chemical or biological warfare agents was sprayed over a 10,000-square mile test area around Victoria, Texas, in 1965.
The 17 tests, conducted between July 11 and Aug. 9, involved the offshore release of zinc cadmium sulfide from two F-105 jet fighters. The chemical cloud was found to have been carried as far as 110 miles inland.
The Church of Scientology, which has culled evidence of numerous such tests from government records acquired under the Freedom of Information Act, said the Victoria experiment -- like the others -- was carried out without notice to local officials or the public.
It also said the test raises additional questions about the possible harmful effects of zinc cadmium sulfide, which the Army contends is safe but the church -- citing the findings of a Canadian pharmacologist and a former Army scientist -- calls a potential health hazard.
The report to the Army Biological Laboratories at Fort Detrick, Md., showed the Victoria test area was 'between Corpus Cristi and Freeport on the coast and bounded inland by San Antonio, Austin and Houston.'
Sampling devices were placed on 270-foot towers on Matagorda Island and outside Victoria and at 96 smaller sampling stations scattered over the test area.
The area of dispersion was far greater than that reported in a 1961 test, in which quantities of zinc cadmium sulfide were released into the air from a 1,400-foot television transmission tower in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
In a letter to Sen. John Tower, R-Texas, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spokesman Brian Anderson renewed the church's call for a ban on open-air testing.
Anderson, in a separate statement, said, 'The health of American citizens is of paramount importance and we are hopeful that the new Congress and the new administration will work together to establish strict guidelines so that this type of experimentation in the public domain will not occur in the future.'
The church previously reported on tests conducted in St. Louis; San Francisco; Minneapolis; Norfolk, Va.; New York; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Winnepeg, Canada.