The Penetration of built-up areas
by Aerosols at night - Porton Down Public Area Biological Warfare
Experiments on Norwich
MoD test of germ warfare aerial spraying over Norwich
This was a Ministry of defence test carried out on the city of
Norwich on January 13th, February 10th, March 16th and April 14th
These are PDF documents which claim to have been declassified
in 2000 and describe an experiment by the ministry of defence
where the city of Norwich was sprayed by aircraft with a substance
known as "Silicon treated FP", which is claimed to be
"innocuous in the concentration which were expected to occur
on the ground".
These documents outline the nature of the experiment and
the involvement of the local police in it.
During May 1963, the War Office Chief Scientist sent a memo to
the Secretary of State explaining the type of public area experiments
that were being conducted in the UK by Porton Down. As can be
seen in the covering letter, the experiments were conducted in
a high level of secrecy because "knowledge of them by
unauthorised persons could be politically embarrassing."
This declassified Porton Down film, which is Crown Copyright, shows
a Valetta aircraft making a number of passes in front of the camera
- all the time spraying the Biological Warfare simulant - Zinc
Cadmium sulphide. These experiments shown in this film were conducted
during March 1958, and were conducted to determine the characteristics
of an aircraft mounted Zinc Cadmium sulphide dispenser. The resulting
information was then used in Porton Down's later public area BW
experiments, some of which (the Large Area Coverage or LAC) contaminated
vast swathes of the UK. A BW simulant is a supposedly harmless
substance which mimics the physical properties of a real BW agent,
in this case, size (between 1-5 microns). BW simulants are used
in BW experiments in which, for safety reasons, a real BW agent
could not be used.
A similar procedure was adopted for the 1963/64 Norwich Trials.
An aircraft, this time a Devon, sprayed the BW simulant Zinc Cadmium
sulphide, at a rate of 2-3 lbs per mile, as it flew along a 62
nm track across Norfolk - at a distance of 24 miles upwind of
the city of Norwich. When the massive aerosol cloud reached its
target area, Porton Down scientists conducted clandestine sampling
of the air at a large number of locations, across the city and
Update - May 2008
You might be interested to learn that a few of my past efforts
are now available for viewing on the net. First up are the two
23 minute programmes, broadcast by ITV West in late 2004, entitled
- Top Secrets Revealed.
Secrets Revealed Episode 1
The first episode covers the years 1950-1963, and contains details
of formerly classified public area BW experiments such as:
The Westwood Trials - Following the successful BW 'sabotage'
attack on the Pentagon, by operatives from the Special Operation
Division of Camp Detrick, the scientists from the UK Biological
Warfare research facility at Porton Down decided to conduct similar
experiments of their own. Unfortunately for them, they were refused
permission to use Government buildings in Whitehall, London so,
after a lengthy search for a suitable test location, they chose
to use the highly classified underground British Museum Art Repository
in Westwood Quarry, Wiltshire. During 1950-1951, scientists released
large aerosols of an opportunistic pathogen in the British Museum
part of the underground quarry - live Serratia marcescens (the
same strain of bacteria which was used in the 1950 San Francisco
experiments, and which is associated with the fatality of a hospital
patient). Unfortunately, these large bacterial aerosols escaped
from the BM Repository and entered the adjacent Royal Enfield
underground factory. This factory was occupied at the time by
over 200 workers! Needless to say, Porton scientists did not warn
the factory workers of the risks - neither did they monitor the
factory workers health!
The Railway Coach Trials - Yet another series of 'sabotage' experiments.
This time the purpose was to investigate the feasibility of sabotage
attacks on railway trains as they travelled through a tunnel.
During these experiments, Porton scientists contaminated regular
trains carrying members of the public as they passed through a
tunnel on the Salisbury-Exeter line in the mid-fifties. The trials
procedure was for a scientist to hide in a tunnel, equipped with
a portable spraying apparatus. Just as the train passed, he operated
the spray unit which produced a bacterial aerosol. Trials results
proved that the interior of the train carriages became contaminated
with the chosen bacteria. The passengers were not informed of
The BW 'Attacks' on the City of Salisbury - During 1960, an aircraft,
flying an arc 40 miles upwind of Porton's nearby city of Salisbury,
sprayed large quantities of a cadmium compound - Zinc Cadmium
sulphide (ZnCds). This compound was carried by the wind into the
city where, because of its small particle size, it was inhaled
and digested by the unwitting population. Documents obtained by
myself in 2001 revealed that although Porton were aware of the
hazardous nature of ZnCds they never subjected it to toxicity
tests prior to its release in populated areas. The population
were never informed of these experiments - even the MOD commissioned
Independent Review of 2000 didn't include the Salisbury experiments
in any detail!
Secrets Revealed Programme 2
Episode 2 contains the following information:
The Icing Tanker Aircraft - This was a classic piece of dual-use
technology. On the surface this especially converted aircraft
was just a research vehicle, constructed to facilitate investigations
into aircraft icing. But it had another, highly classified role
- as the UK's BW spray aircraft. Experiments using this aircraft
were conducted in populated areas on numerous occasions during
1967. As before, two types of live bacteria were released - E.coli
MRE162, and Bacillus subtilis.
Interview with Professor Brian Spratt FRS - Prof Spratt was commissioned,
in 1998, by the UK Ministry of Defence to investigate whether
those residents who were exposed to the massive bacterial clouds
suffered any adverse health effects. Prof Spratt reveals that
while most people would probably have not suffered ill effects,
some people, especially those with an underlying disease or an
suppressed immune system, might have experienced pneumonia or
sepsis. He also revealed that on four separate occasions, Porton
scientists knowingly sprayed a contaminated bacterial suspension
over a populated area!
As is this were not enough, during the interview Prof Spratt
became aware that the MOD have not been as honest with him as
he had thought. They had 'forgotten' to inform him of the six
'massive' crosswind line releases of live bacteria, which were
conducted in 1968. Even worse, declassified documents revealed
that these experiments were not conducted for any research purposes
- they were instead carried out purely to show off Porton's dubious
abilities to the UK Military!
The 1971 Collaborative UK/US BW Detection Trials -
During November 1971, Lyme Bay and the surrounding countryside
again became the host for Porton's BW experiments, but this time
there was a difference - Porton had invited two guests to participate
in the tests; the US Army and the US Navy! As before, these experiments
were highly classified, but in case the general public had discovered
their existence, the MOD had prepared a Press Release which stated
that no live bacteria were released. The declassification of the
official trials report proved this statement to have been untrue
- the report states that, on a number of occasions, massive amounts
of live bacteria (Bacillus subtilis) were released.
1975 Joint UK/US BW Detection Trials (DICE Trials) - Little is
known about this series of BW detection experiments, which were
conducted in the Lyme Bay area. It is known that Porton scientists,
in collaboration with US Military scientists, conducted 24 separate
massive crosswind line releases of bacteria (Inactivated Serratia
marcescens - ISM, and live Bacillus subtilis).
Yet again, as the interview shows, the Ministry of Defence appear
to have 'forgotten' to inform Prof Spratt about the existence
of a series of live bacterial releases in populated areas!
The 2001 Royal Mail Sorting Office Experiments - In response
to the 2001 anthrax 'attacks' in the US, BW experiments were conducted
at 3 major UK Royal Mail Sorting Offices which involved the release
of live Bacillus subtilis.
During November 2006, BBC East broadcast a InsideOut 30 minute
special - entitled Clouds of Secrey. This investigated Porton
Down's 1960s BW spray 'attacks' on Norfolk (with the city of Norwich
as the main target). It also revealed a recently discovered series
of sprayings, conducted in the Cardington Bedford area in the
early 1960s, which involved the use of Porton Down's clandestine
spray vehicle - a specially converted 1 ton Morris van.
Enabling the UK public to learn more of these past experiments
has become even more important following the 1999
MOD statement, which refused to rule out carrying out further
larger scale trials in the future.
DERA, the MOD agency then responsible for the CBW facility
at Porton Down, stated:
"In the event of a military question arising which could
only be answered by conducting open air trials in areas which
may involve the general public, Ministers have made it clear that
they cannot rule out the need to conduct larger scale trials in
the future to try to ensure the protection of the UK from attacks
by peoples of states using biological or chemical weapons".
During June 2006, in reply to a FOIA request, Dstl Porton Down
confirmed to me that the 1999 statement was still official Government
policy, but that they had not as yet felt the need to conduct
large-scale open air tests.
Until the MOD rescind this policy, we will continue to live with
the knowledge that, should the MOD deem it necessary, Porton Down
will restart their public area spraying programme.