Thursday, January 27, 2011

Salt Lake City Biological weapons base reopens after scare


A Utah military base that carries out tests to protect troops against biological attacks was locked down for nearly 12 hours overnight due to a "serious concern" before it was allowed to reopen early Thursday, officials said.
Dugway Proving Grounds spokeswoman Paula Thomas said the base, located about 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, had first reopened to incoming personnel, and people inside were allowed to leave shortly thereafter.
She said there were no injuries resulting from the cause of the lockdown. More details would be released later in the day, she added.
Col. William King, base commander at Dugway, announced Wednesday evening that gates were locked to both incoming and outgoing personnel to resolve the problem, but that no one was in danger.
King and other base officials declined to provide any details on the cause of the lockdown.
"We are working as quickly and as thoroughly as possible to resolve a serious concern within the Test Area," King said in a statement Wednesday. "Measures like these (lock down of our gates) are not taken lightly. No one is in immediate danger but these steps are required."
About 1,200 to 1,400 people — a mix of military personnel and contractors and civilian workers — were inside the base when the lockdown occurred, Thomas said.
The Salt Lake Tribune reportedthe nearly 800,000-acre base conducts chemical and biological defense training, and "is the Defense Department's leader in testing battlefield smokes and obscurants."
Personnel there also test military equipment's viability in environments where they're facing chemical or biological threat.
The base also is used by the U.S. Army Reserves and the U.S. National Guard for maneuver training.

STORY FROM ASSOCIATED PRESS