Lethal sarin tested
on Big Island

The Pentagon says sarin
nerve gas was tested in 1967
in the Waiakea Forest

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Lethal sarin nerve gas was secretly tested in the Big Island's Upper Waiakea Forest Reserve in 1967, according to disclosures by the Pentagon today.

The purpose of the 1967 sarin test, called Red Oak, Phase I, was to determine how effective 155mm cannon projectiles and 115mm rocket warheads could disperse the gas when fired in a jungle environment, the Pentagon said. Sarin is a volatile and lethal nerve agent.

Besides Hawaii, the 115mm rocket heads and 155mm projectiles were tested in Panama between April and May 1967. However, sarin gas was only released in the Big Island forest southwest of Hilo.

The Pentagon did not say what Army units were involved in the Big Island tests or the number of soldiers involved.

The Aum Shinrikyo Cult was reported to have used the nerve agent sarin in a Tokyo subway in 1995, killing 12 and sending 5,000 to hospitals.

In 1966, the Big Island's Olaa region also was used as part of project "Yellow Leaf," where the biological aerosol Bacillius globigii was tested.

Initially, Bacillus globigii was believed to be harmless bacterium. Researchers later discovered the bacteria could cause infections in people with weak immune systems. The purpose of the tests was to determine its diffusion characteristics under a jungle canopy.

The Pentagon also disclosed today that the riot control agent CS tear gas also was secretly tested that same year in "a tropical jungle environment." However, no test site was identified.

Soldiers and volunteers, who were not wearing protective gas masks, were exposed to CS tear gas which was dropped from an aircraft and fired from a handheld launcher.

None of the participants or units were identified.

Earlier this month the Pentagon said another test, "Big Tom", involved spraying Bacillus globigii over Oahu in May and June 1965. Two other tests on the Big Island, in April through June 1966, used small bombs to test a compound with benzilic acid in the upper Waiakea Forest Preserve, southwest of Hilo. The substance can cause stupor, hallucinations and confusion.

On Oct. 9, the Pentagon said that at least seven secret chemical and biological weapons tests were held at sea near Hawaii beginning in January 1963 and continued until 1969. Some used the military's deadliest nerve agent, VX.

To date, the Pentagon has acknowledged and released 45 fact sheets on the 46 secret Cold War-era chemical and biological warfare tests conducted more than 40 years ago involving U.S. soldiers and sailors. The tests were conducted by the Deseret Test Center, established at Fort Douglas, Utah, between 1962-73. The test center was closed in 1973.

The chemical and biological warfare test was known as Project 112. The test center planned 134 tests with 46 confirmed to be conducted and 62 canceled.

U.S. DoD Deployment Health Support

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