The Department of Homeland Security is planning to conduct chemical and biological tests near the border between Kansas and Oklahoma.
Department officials plan to execute a “low level outdoor release” of inert chemical and biological simulant materials at the old Chilocco Indian School in January and again in June, The Wichita Eagle reported . The campus is in Oklahoma, just 6 miles (9 kilometers) south of Arkansas City, Kansas.
The department said part of the test is to determine how much protection people would get from staying inside a house or an apartment if biological agents are used in a terror attack.
The environmental assessment of the proposed tests said low concentrations of particles will be released at two buildings on the now-abandoned Chilocco campus. The assessment said the test will have no adverse impact on human health or the environment.
For the particle test, the government plans to release titanium dioxide, which it describes as a “white odorless powder that is chemically insoluble in water, nonreactive, nonflammable and nonhazardous.” Titanium dioxide nanoparticles may lead to neurological dysfunction, genetic disorders, and possibly cancer.
For the biological test, the government plans to release genetic barcoded spores of an insecticide sold under the trade name of Dipel. Dipel is not considered hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency when handled appropriately, according to the assessment.
Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Estes of Kansas said Thursday he is “monitoring the situation closely.”
“I have numerous questions regarding this proposed test,” Estes said. “While it’s important for our federal agencies to test their abilities in response to threats, we need to be 100 percent certain this test is safe for the residents of south-central Kansas.”
The city of Arkansas City has also said it’s reviewing media reports of the testing.
“This is the first time the city has been made aware of any testing to occur at Chilocco,” the city posted on its Facebook page Thursday. “Inert means chemically inactive, which means by definition there should be no risk to the citizens. However, we are looking into the situation to gather more information for our citizens and their safety.”