Final Version Concludes Investigation Into
Cement Factory

WASHINGTON, September 28, 2000 (GulfLINK) - The Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses released today the final version of its Cement Factory case narrative, concluding it "unlikely" that chemical warfare agents were present at an industrial area outside Kuwait City during the 1991 Gulf War. The final report concurs with investigators' original findings released as an interim report in 1999.

Since the interim report was released nearly 18 months ago, no new evidence and no new leads were developed that contradict the original material. Additionally, the Presidential Special Oversight Board reviewed the narrative and recommended that the special assistant's office republish the report as final.

This report draws on information from a variety of Marine Corps and Department of Defense Desert Storm command chronologies, records and logs. Additionally, 25 veterans offered first-hand accounts of the events related to the samples taken at the site. Investigators also interviewed several subject-matter experts regarding chemical warfare agents, chemical warfare agent detectors, chemical warfare agent sampling, mine warfare and cement production processes.

On March 12, 1991, a team of chemical defense and explosive ordnance specialists from the 2nd Marine Division was ordered to inspect the site which was thought to be an Iraqi chemical weapon filling station. The team inspected the area, known as the cement factory, using two Fox Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance vehicles.

Within a half mile of the inspection site, the Fox vehicle team reported an alert for a chemical warfare agent. The Marines searched the area and soil samples were taken for analysis. A second Fox vehicle was ordered to survey the area. Again, the team was alerted to the presence of chemical warfare agents. More soil samples were taken and the vehicle operators printed records of both alerts. However, only one of the printed records has been located and analyzed. This record was analyzed by chemical engineers at the Army Chemical Research and Development Engineering Center in Edgewood, Md. The results of the analysis reported that no chemical warfare agent were present. Despite repeated attempts to obtain analysis results, the Marines were never notified of the laboratory's findings.

Although some of the Marines involved in the cement factory incident thought chemical warfare agents were present, this investigation could find no evidence of the presence of chemical warfare agents at the factory. Except for the Fox alerts, no other evidence, to include Fox vehicle spectrum analysis, was found that would indicate a possibility that chemical warfare agents were either present or had been stored there. Furthermore, no casualties had been reported.

Although this is a final report, veterans' feedback is welcome, said Bernard Rostker, the special assistant for Gulf War illnesses. Anyone who has new information that may change the results of the investigation is encouraged to call (800) 497-6261.