Gruinard Island: Weapon Of Mass Destruction

1260 words - 5 pages

Gruinard Island is just one metaphoric piece of debris left over from the fallout and effects of Germany during World War 2 (WW2). This is just another testimony to the underappreciated fear of the invisible killer, the quiet storm and the science of the dragon’s breath also know as Weapons of Mass Destruction. This example is played out on the island of Gruinard merely a proving ground in fear of Germany’s biological program.

Gruinard Island
“Anthrax Island” an unsettling silence always follows whenever this is spoken. To think of such a place leaves you to envision an unnerving isolated floating rock of lifelessness. Gruinard Island is an oval-shaped Scottish island approximately 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long by 1 kilometers (.62 miles) wide about 520-acre. Located in the Gruinard bay about halfway between Gairloch and Ullapool its closest point to the mainland is about 1 mile off the western coast of Scotland. This quaint piece of land was selected by British Military scientists from Porta Down in 1941 during World War 2 (WW2) as a testing ground for Anthrax. The scientist wanted to know the feasibility of an attack using anthrax via ground or air. Types of dispersion and how it would affect people, animals and vegetation if exposed, they also wanted to test their personal vulnerability and the viability of attacking Germany with a British Bio Weapon. This information was very valuable at the time due to the known threats coming from Germany at the time. They wanted to plan response plans and prepare for the worst case. The use of this land was primarily due to its isolation, the rugged mountain and constant offshore were not the best fit for overall control of downwind hazards. The island was split into halves, one side was designated as clean and the other was designated as dirty. Sheep were used as the test subject for the experiments. They were chosen due to the particular sensitivity to anthrax and because small animals like sheep were easy to move using a sheepdog. The sheep were kept off the island on only brought onto the island for testing.
At the time most locals had some idea of what was going on but never were formally told of the test and detailed information. Testing started in 1942 two expedition trial bombs was fired and in the summer of 1943 four additional bombs were also tested. The sheep that were tested needed to be covered due to the test, the scientist wanted to insure they did not farther spread contamination and also to set a time exposed. The sheep were placed in a four sided plastic incasing to prevent any other part of the body being exposed and possibly causing secondary contamination. The scientist will chart all information over sixty sheep were used and exposed to anthrax. Harrison (2001) Not all precautions taken by the scientist were effective there are stories of how the dead sheep were dumped in a cave on the island and buried under tons of rocks, but one of the sheep’s carcasses was washed out...

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