Officials at an Army chemical and biological storage and testing facility did not follow protocols while tracking inventories of sarin, a dangerous nerve agent, according to a recent inspector general report.
The U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground also at times failed to provide disqualifying information about employees such as drug use and an incident involving alcohol, the report found.
Dugway Proving Ground was the same Utah location cited in 2015 for protocol failures that allowed live anthrax spores to be shipped to 194 laboratories in 50 states and nine foreign countries.
Some of the packages were shipped by commercial carriers such as FedEx.
In the June 7 Defense Department IG report, titled, "The Army Needs to Improve Controls Over Chemical Surety Materials," leaders from the deputy assistant secretary of defense for chemical and biological defense down to the commander of Dugway Proving Ground simultaneously agreed with some of the IG's findings while also disagreeing with some of the report's recommendations.
Inspectors reviewed accountability controls at Dugway, U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and U.S. Army Deseret Chemical Depot in Utah.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, chemical and biological testing facilities were reviewed for security and storage measures.
Dugway and contractors "did not conduct chemical agent inventories by primary container" when those containers were stored within a secondary container.
Meaning that the container that contained the actual agent, such as sarin, was not physically inspected.
"…therefore, custodians cannot identify and account for leaks, evaporation or theft that may have occurred," according to the report.
Additionally, Dugway officials did not "immediately notify the chemical materials accountability officer" of a 1.5 milliliter shortage of sarin discovered during an April 19, 2016, inventory. That amount is enough to cause death within minutes, according to the CDC.
Contractors also used re-sealable tape to seal containers, which means that the container could have been tampered with between inspections, according to the report.
These incidents and other practices contradicted specific requirements outlined in a 2008 Army regulation on chemical surety as well as DoD instructions on chemical and biological storage and inventory, the IG wrote.
The report recommended, among others, that the Army deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7, coordinate with DoD to revise Army regulations to better align with the DoD instruction on chemical agent inventory practices.
Also, the commanders of Army Materiel Command and Dugway should require a 100 percent physical inventory by primary container to establish a baseline chemical agent inventory before changing inventory procedures.
The commander of Dugway also should provide refresher training on reporting and resolving inventory discrepancies and establish better segregation of duties over accountability for chemical agent inventory.
The report also calls the commanders of AMC, Dugway and Pueblo to implement additional internal controls to ensure effective oversight of compliance with program requirements.
The DoD and Army agreed to some of the IG’s recommendations. The IG requested further responses for those items that officials disagreed with be provided by July 7. An Army spokesman didn’t respond by press time if the Army’s responses to the IG would be available or made public by the deadline.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.