Dugway Proving Ground Case Study

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On the early morning of March 15, 1968, thousands of sheep started showing signs and symptoms of an odd, peculiar disease; they were unable to come to their feet and unable to keep their necks straight, soon after, they were dying. Locals in Utah's Death Valley, a Native American Indian reservation, approximately a 30 minute drive from Dugway Proving Ground, reached to some of the workers at the US Army facility searching for answers or help in relation to what was occurring to their herds; most of the Death Valley population income is attained from selling or breeding their animals, which they were losing to this unexpected illness. On that day, their lives will become a nightmare. This incident generated national attention at a time of suspicion…show more content…
A few days earlier, specifically on March 13, 1968, an F-4 Phantom aircraft flew a secret open air test mission over the Dugway Proving Ground with chemical dispensers containing VX, a chemical agent discovered in 1950, very persistent liquid whose lethality rely on contact rather than vapors (Mauroni, pg. 105), to this day the agent is still classified as a weapon of mass destruction and banned by the UN for use. One of the dispensers been carried by the jet malfunctioned and was not completely emptied during the open air test, as the aircraft gained altitude VX leaked out in a trail behind the aircraft into Death Valley; the wind which at the time of the test was blowing out of the northwest, later shifted to the west as a small storm front passed. These west winds started carrying the powerful nerve agent directly over the sheep herds contaminating the area where the herd feeding area, soon after, the sheep ate the grass contaminated with VX, quickly developing signs and symptoms very similar to those of the chemical
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