The Department of Defense today issued its latest case narrative, "Possible Mustard Release at Ukhaydir Ammunition Storage Depot." The report examines the possibility that two coalition air strikes during the 1991 Gulf War air campaign caused a limited release of mustard chemical warfare agent. Coalition planes may have destroyed or damaged some 200 of the more than 6,000 chemical artillery rounds stored at Iraq's Ukhaydir ammunition depot. The investigation was prompted by information collected for an earlier information paper.
Investigators were unable to determine if mustard chemical warfare agent was released as a result of airstrikes because the available evidence is inconclusive. Post-war United Nations inspectors discovered more than 200 empty chemical artillery shells, some with burn damage, at the Fallujah Proving Ground ammunition storage site. The investigators determined these shells were part of 6,394 stored at Ukhaydir, 100 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, during the war and may have been damaged during coalition airstrikes at Ukhaydir on Jan. 20, 1991, and around midnight on Feb. 13, 1991.
The CIA and the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses independently conducted computer modeling and simulation studies to determine the extent of any possible exposure threat. The modeling results revealed that if chemical agent releases occurred, the hazard area did not extend beyond 125 kilometers. U.S. forces were located several hundred kilometers away and were in no danger of exposure. In 1999, the CIA revisited the evidence and modified their assessments based on more recent United Nations Special Committee inspections. The CIA no longer considers the January 20, 1991, air strike and bunker fire a case for mustard release.
Case narratives examine Gulf War incidents that might have involved chemical warfare agents. They are part of DoD's efforts to inform the public about its investigations into the nature and possible causes for the illnesses experienced by some Gulf War veterans.
This narrative, and all other publications of the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, is posted on the GulfLINK website at http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/ukhaydir/ .