UK citizens exposed to chemical tests during Cold War

Thousands of people exposed to dangerous chemicals and diseases during cold war trials, research from University of Kent professor shows

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Recent research by Ulf Schmidt, a professor of Modern History at the University of Kent, has shown that more than 750 secret chemical and biological warfare test operations took place in acorss the UK during the cold war.

According to Professor Schmidt’s research “Splace secret Science” published on July 9, trials were conducted in Salisbury, Cardington and Norwich as well as in London’s underground train, between 1953 and 1964, using uncertain substances which affected large number of people.

In several operations Bacillus globigii bacteria was released in large quantities by aircraft carrying around 4600 kilograms of chemicals.

Although these bacteria are not considered to be deadly, they can still cause food poisoning, eye infections or septicaemia.

The government chose to proceed with the trials, disregarding the possibility of the wind changing direction and putting civilians in danger.

Other tests took place in the Bahamas and Nigeria.

However, still no records have been released showing the total number of people affected by the experiments as well as who was in charge of them.

“The government records I’ve been looking at are conspicuously silent on all this,” said Professor Schmidt. “Officials had clearly good reasons as to why the kind of experiments undertaken in Nigeria were strictly prohibited on the British mainland, which is why the files and photographic records surrounding Britain’s post-war nerve agent testing in Africa were regarded as particularly sensitive,” he added.

According to Professor Schmidt, chemicals were also used on more than 14,000 soldiers who were not told exactly what they were consenting to.

TRTWorld and agencies