Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bubonic plague tested off coast of Scotland

BBC News:

Scotland was used as a testing ground for weapons containing bubonic plague, according to secret defence papers which have been made public.

A fishing boat crew from Fleetwood in England was accidentally exposed during testing and then covertly monitored.

The exposure happened during MoD tests of biological weapons in 1952.

Pontoons containing live monkeys and guinea pigs were moored off the coast of Lewis and clouds of bubonic plague were exploded above them.

But a trawler unwittingly steamed into the danger zone and Ministry of Defence ships shadowed the craft for weeks to monitor any emergency calls about the health of the crew.

All documents about the affair, apart from a sanitised Admiralty report, were ordered to be destroyed and the incident remained secret until now.

The tests were part of a biological weapons research programme based at Porton Down in Wiltshire conducted between the second world war and the mid-1950s.

However, islanders said the tests were an open secret locally at the time.

Trawler crew exposed to deadly plague test

Revealed: how naval intelligence tested lethal 'plague bombs' off Scotland


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