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Fuel Additive, Not Agent Filled Tank Near Kuwaiti

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 24, 1998 – Inhibited red fuming nitric acid, a highly corrosive fuel component used with Iraqi missiles, filled a liquid storage tank found by British ordnance specialists after the Gulf War.

Iraq used the Kuwaiti Girls' School as an anti-ship missile test and maintenance facility during the war. After the fighting stopped, coalition forces removed missiles and equipment left behind by the Iraqis. Several months later, a British explosive ordnance disposal team discovered the storage tank. Initial tests indicated the presence of a chemical warfare agent, but further analysis concluded the tank contained nitric acid.

Details of the discovery and ensuing investigation are contained in the latest of 10 case narratives DoD has released as part of its Gulf War illnesses investigation. The narrative reveals a lengthy and complex review of the storage tank's contents by both the British and American governments.

In 1997, DoD's special assistant for Gulf War illnesses and the British Ministry of Defense's Gulf War Veterans' Unit began jointly reassessing available information. They conducted more than two dozen interviews with people directly involved in the events, and obtained documentation and expert analysis from at least 13 British and 15 U.S. government agencies, the United Nations, Kuwait and three non-governmental organizations.

"For the first time, many of the disparate elements of the case were brought together," said Bernard Rostker, DoD special assistant for Gulf War illnesses. "Many people were associated with post-war operations at the girls' school, but no one seemed to be aware of all the elements."

Roskter termed the case a milestone in the ongoing investigation, because "it involved cooperation between our two countries. In the past year, the Ministry of Defense and DoD have developed an outstanding collaborative relationship, which can only help the Gulf War veterans of both countries," he said. Rostker pledged continued cooperation between British and American investigators.

All case narratives and reports relating to the DoD investigation are available at the GulfLINK Internet site (www.gulflink.osd.mil). Besides informing the public, the narratives are intended to open up a dialogue with Gulf War veterans. Rostker urged people with additional information to call the Gulf War incident reporting hot line at (800) 472-6719.

While the investigation continues, DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs still offer free health screenings to Gulf War veterans. Active duty service members, military retirees or those affiliated with the Reserve components can arrange for an exam through the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program at (800) 796-9699. Those no longer affiliated with DoD, including Reserve personnel, can arrange a medical examination through the VA's Persian Gulf Registry at (800) 749-8387.

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