Congressional Record: June 10, 2002 (Senate)
Page S5277-S5278

                            THE SHAD PROJECT

  Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, over the course of the last few 
days, I have learned some rather disturbing news about U.S. servicemen 
being used as human guinea pigs. It is a project that was carried out 
in the 1970s aboard ships, the ships in the Pacific, a project known by 
the acronym of SHAD--S-H-A-D. It was basically using various biological 
and chemical agents to expose our sailors, supposedly, in an attempt to 
have a readiness should that kind of an attack occur upon our troops. 
At that time we were still involved in the Vietnam war.
  But with the information that I have received, it is unclear if, in 
fact, the troops--in this case, the sailors--were told about the test 
and were, in fact, given the appropriate warnings to get the proper 
protective gear.
  The reason this has come to light--and I want to give credit where 
credit is due--there is a brave and courageous Congressman in 
California, Congressman Thompson, who has been railing about this 
issue. But it has recently come to my attention because several of 
those now retired sailors are being notified by the U.S. Government 
that they should come in and get examined medically, and some of those 
former sailors are in the State of Florida.
  Now, here is the extent of it. There were some 113 tests that were 
made. The only ones that have been released thus far are some 12 of the 
113 tests. According to the sources I have, in those 12, there were a 
total of 4,300 sailors who were exposed to these chemical and 
biological agents that were sprayed on or over the ships in the Pacific 
in the 1970s. Of those 4,300 sailors, only 622 have been notified and 
have been notified by mail.
  By the way, how it came to my attention is 51 of those 622 happen to 
reside in the State of Florida.
  This, in and of itself, portends some very serious consequences for 
our country. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I want 
to know, now some three decades later, that we are contacting these 
sailors to come in and get checked medically. I want to know the 
  I want to know who were the military personnel, were there any 
civilian personnel, and were there any substances we should know about 
so that we could give the kind of medical care that would be important 
as the U.S. Government ought to be protecting the people, particularly 
the people who served in uniform trying to protect this country.
  When this came to my attention last week, I wrote to the Secretary of 
Defense and asked him for an explanation. I have written to our 
wonderful chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Levin, and 
asked him to conduct an inquiry and hearing, if necessary, and if it 
needs to be classified, then we can operate in the Armed Services 
Committee in a classified manner to find out what the degree of 
exposure was and what the degree of medical attention should be in 
order to protect these American citizens.
  If that is not enough, I have also had my suspicions aroused because 
in the 1950s there was a test going on in the old Boca Raton airbase. 
This was an airbase that during World War II was a training base for 
flyers. After World War II, in the 1950s, there was research going on 
at this particular airfield to develop a toxin that would attack and 
kill the Soviet wheat crop.
  Remember, in the 1950s we were immersed in the cold war. We didn't 
know what to expect. We had the two nuclear superpowers. We were 
investigating: Could we develop a toxin that, if the United States were 
attacked, with which we would be able to attack their agricultural 
  Why was that done in Florida? Well, we don't raise wheat in Florida. 
So that is one of the reasons Florida was chosen. But in addition to 
the Boca Raton location, there were other field tests made not only for 
wheat but perhaps for other substances that I have been able to find 
out about just in the State of Florida, in locations such as Belle 
Glade, Fort Pierce, Avon Park, and Panama City.
  A couple of months ago, I wrote to the Department of Defense and 
asked for information about this matter, along with the same line of 
inquiry which I have just spoken about with regard to SHAD, the gassing 
of the sailors in the 1970s. I wanted to know: Were people at risk? 
Were military personnel exposed? Were civilians exposed? And on the 85-
acre parcel to the north of what is now Florida Atlantic University, 
built on the Boca Raton airport, a part of the old airbase, an 85-acre 
area to the north where this testing was going on, were there toxins 
that were dumped there? Were there toxins buried there?
  Basically, to my inquiry to the Department of Defense a couple months 
ago, they said they could not tell me because it was classified. Well, 
the Senate Committee on Armed Services is not only capable but is quite 
experienced in handling highly classified matters of the Government. 
The Defense Department had better be forthcoming to let us know if 
there is a problem, and if there is, what we are going to do about it.

[[Page S5278]]

  These two issues have come up in the last few days and have certainly 
aroused my suspicions. I call on the good offices of the Secretary of 
Defense, who I think personally is doing a very good job, to see that 
his organization snaps to and produces the documentation the Senate 
needs in its oversight capacity.