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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 172-99
April 15, 1999

PRESENCE OF CHEMICAL WARFARE AGENTS AT CEMENT FACTORY ASSESSED AS "UNLIKELY"

The Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses released today a case narrative that assesses whether chemical warfare agents were present at an industrial area outside Kuwait City.

"Upon reviewing all available evidence, our investigators determined that the exposure of U.S. armed forces in the area must be assessed as unlikely," said Bernard Rostker, the special assistant for Gulf War illnesses. "However, we have also identified a number of lessons to be learned from our investigation of the events at the cement factory."

Evidence presented by the Fox Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle tape, the soil analysis and the lack of casualties from exposure to chemical agents, make a very strong case that there were no chemical warfare agents at the cement factory, Rostker said. However, since one of the two Fox tapes is missing and the soil samples may have been packaged incorrectly, it is not feasible to completely rule out the possibility of chemical warfare agents.

The narrative suggests the need for improvements in the areas of communication, sampling procedures, and transporting evidence for analysis. It also focuses on chemical alerts and soil samples taken from the area and examines the events that occurred before, during and after the incident. This investigation was undertaken in response to veterans' testimony to the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, and to follow-up reports published last year in Chapter 11 of the MITRE Corporation's draft report, "Iraqi Chemical Warfare: Analysis of Information Available to DoD."

Rostker reminds veterans that this is an interim, not a final report. The report will be reissued and the assessments revised, if new evidence warrants. "I hope that veterans will read this report. If there is an error or information that we missed, we encourage veterans with additional information to call us toll free at 1-800-497-6261," he said.

The complete case narrative is available on GulfLINK, DoD's Internet website, http://www.gulflink.osd.mil.