Fort Detrick has released a preliminary archive search report on its past Agent Orange use as the Kristen Renee Foundation began to ramp up its efforts to prove that the Army post caused a cancer cluster in Frederick. According to the report, which was posted online Tuesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that Fort Detrick tested an estimated 16.82 pounds of Agent Orange and similar defoliants between 1944 and 1951.
In a news release, Fort Detrick noted that the amount tested was relatively small. "During 1969 alone, the national average for use of the exact same chemical was roughly 1.12 pounds per acre, which equates to more than 8.9 million pounds used nationwide to include farm, lawn care, right of way, private property, aquatic area applications," the news release states. "There is no difference in the compounds used by the military during this time and those that were commercially available."
Fort Detrick's preliminary report is based on annual special reports, which chronicle scientific research. The archived records show that the Chemical Warfare Service at Fort Detrick in 1944 gave the Plant Research Branch "the mission of developing chemical agents to destroy or reduce the value of crops." This mission led to the creation of a number of chemicals in the Agent Orange family.
According to the preliminary report, records show that researchers tested these chemicals in fields between 1944 and 1951. Tests were done in plots of 6 by 18 feet; the chemicals were applied with hand-held sprayers. Light metal frames with wind-resistant cloth were placed between each plot to keep the chemicals from spreading and ruining the experiments -- which also means the chemicals didn't blow far off Army grounds, the report states.
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