Abandoned buildings at the former Chilocco Indian School– north of Newkirk have been chosen for use in U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security tests on the ability of biological weapons to penetrate houses and other residential buildings.The study includes plans for a low level outdoor release of inert chemical and biological simulant materials, according to the Homeland Security website. A total of three releases are planned over a one- to two-week period for each of two buildings.
Dept. of Homeland Security Science and Technology is working with Oklahoma State University’s Multispectral Laboratories, LLC. on the project. Public comments on the plan are being accepted until Dec. 8.
Chilocco’s campus was chosen, according to a 58-page environmental assessment report on the project, because testing materials could be released from a distance with minimal “environmental impact and public exposure.” Chilocco is no longer in use and is basically an abandoned town with more than 30 buildings.
The project was planned with public safety in mind. Anyone involved in conducting the release will wear protective suits, masks and gloves. Those in areas where exposure is above acceptable levels, will wear a respirator. Currently, according to the proposal, there is a lack of data and understanding as to how much a person’s home can protect them in the event of biological attack.
Some residents in Northern Oklahoma and Southern Kansas are concerned over the plan to conduct outdoor chemical tests near the state line. A draft of the study on the DHS website states the proposed tests will be conducted in early 2018 and in summer 2018. Homeland Security officials said the particles are colorless, odorless and non-toxic materials. The purpose of the study is to gather data that enhances the department’s predictive capabilities in the event of a biological agent attack.
A petition has been started on Change.org to stop the testings. Nearly 850 had signed as of yesterday afternoon.