The Department of Homeland Security is now taking public comment on a plan to release biological and chemical materials at the former Chilocco Indian School near Arkansas City.
The release of the inert chemical and biological material at the abandoned school is meant to test how a potential chemical attack on the U.S. will impact people inside of houses differently than those outside. DHS officials say they chose the school because the buildings on its campus are representative of typical homes and apartments found across the country. They are also far enough away from public buildings that officials believe the agents will dissipate before reaching them.
Congressman Ron Estes, who represents the 4th District in south-central Kansas, says he was concerned when he first learned about the test's proximity to Arkansas City.
“You know, it is important for all of our federal agencies to test their abilities in response to different threats, but I want to make sure that they were 100 percent certain this test is safe," he says.
In the environmental assessment for the proposed test, DHS officials say the chemical and biological agents they will be using will pose no major risk to air quality, vegetation or wildlife. The first test is scheduled for January or February of 2018.
DHS will be accepting public comment on the proposed test until Dec. 8.
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