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Dugway Proving Ground

 

Background

Dugway Proving Ground was a site of extensive chemical and biological testing from 1942 onward. It is located 80 miles west-southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah, and covers 800,000 acres. It was large enough and remote enough to allow for the full-scale testing of chemical and biological munitions and delivery systems. Dugway was the site of extensive, open-air biological and chemical testing in the 1950s and 1960s. Defensive chemical and biological equipment testing continues today within its facilities and laboratories.

Human Experimentation

Dugway Proving Ground supported service requirements for chemical and biological testing of agent and munitions. Dugway personnel helped develop test plans and provided manpower and facilities in support of service testing. Any individuals exposed during testing or laboratory work either intentionally or accidentally are included in the Cold War database currently under development. This database archives exposures from 1942 onward that were not included in the earlier World War II or Project 112/SHAD databases.

Spray Tanks

Furthermore, Dugway Proving Ground was the scene of some Project 112 testing conducted under the auspices of Deseret Test Center. Individuals exposed to chemical or biological agents during this testing were added to the Project112/SHAD database.

Chemical agents tested at Dugway Proving Ground included the nerve agents, blister agents, and hallucinogens. Biological agent testing involved the use of biological agent simulants as well as pathogenic agents.

Discussions with military veterans and personnel assigned to Dugway Proving Ground indicated that active duty units deployed to and fired chemical munitions at the Proving Ground. Additionally, personnel involved in biological agent testing may have received vaccinations against these agents. Moreover, Service members and civilian personnel assigned to Dugway Proving Ground acted in the roles of test administrators and data recorders during various experiments. Unfortunately, documentation identifying these individuals, their potential exposures and the role they played in testing at Dugway is limited. The names of individuals identified in any existing documentation are included in the Cold War database.

Summary

The majority of the testing at Dugway Proving Ground concentrated on munition development and determining how agents spread once they were released from munitions. There was significantly less human testing conducted at Dugway Proving Ground than at Fort Detrick or Edgewood Arsenal. Any exposure, either from human testing or accidents, is included in DoD’s exposure databases.

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