Court Blocks Army Testing Laboratory

Article excerpt

A U.S. district court has enjoined the Army from continuing the construction of a proposed aerosol toxin laboratory at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The court ruled that the Army has not adequately considered and disclosed the potential environmental impact of the facility.

The suit was brought by the Foundation on Economic Trends, a Washington, D.C.-based public-interest organization, and two retired military officers (SN: 12/22 & 29/84, p. 397). The foundation, led by Jeremy Rifkin, has also won cases blocking the deliberate release of genetically engineered microorganisms and requiring the National Institutes of Health to prepare an environmental assessment of such experiments (SN: 3/9/85, p. 148).

The Dugway Proving Ground, located 87 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, is a Defense Department installation to assess the "7ilitary value of chemical warfare and biological defense systems," according to the defendants. Congress approved funds in 1984 for a modernization, which would include construction of an aerosol toxin laboratory. The Army says the laboratory was designed to meet the most stringent safety regulations for work with genetically engineered organisms, in case the Army decided to test such organisms at some future date.

The plaintiffs argued that the Army should be required to prepare a formal environmental impact statement on the grounds that the laboratory would likely be used for work with recombinant DNA organisms. …