§ Mr. Llew Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what specific assessments have been made by his Department, the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, or by the United States Defence Department with his knowledge, of the possibility that some of the Iraqi targets bombed during Operation Granby released chemical warfare agents into the environment that may have contaminated British service men and women.
§ Mr. Hanley
[holding answer 24 June 1994]: This is a matter for the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, CBDE, under its framework document. I have asked the chief executive, CBDE, to write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Graham Pearson to Mr. Llew Smith, dated 24 June 1994:>1. Your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Defence asking him what specific assessments have been made by his Department, the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, or by the United States Defense Department with his knowledge, of the possibility that some of the Iraqi targets bombed during Operation GRANBY released chemical warfare agents into the environment that may have contaminated British servicemen and women has been passed to me to answer as Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment.2. During Operation GRANBY, the potential hazard to Service personnel resulting from the bombing of Iraqi targets at which chemical weapons were stored was recognised by the Ministry of Defence. The Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment made an assessment of the potential downwind hazard distances based on various assumptions for the quantity of agent that might be released as a result of a bombing attack and for the associated meteorological conditions.3. The result of the assessment indicated that even assuming simultaneous release of the majority of agent from several bunkers under meteorological conditions which favoured the downwind travel of the agent cloud and ignoring the fact that chemical agents are organic materials which are destroyed by combustion, the maximum distance at which there would be any hazard was of the order of a few tens of kilometres. In practice, simultaneous release is unlikely to occur, agent will be destroyed by combustion and meteorological conditions will be less favourable resulting in a significantly reduced downwind hazard distance.4. The conclusion was that there was no evidence that British Servicemen and women would be exposed to chemical warfare agent as a result of bombing attacks. Our appreciation is that the US Department of Defense carried out similar studies and reached similar conclusions.