The Army will test Oklahomas advanced network of weather radar from Feb. 24 to March 7 and again April 21 to May 7. Officials hope to learn whether the network can detect materials released from an airplane.
A plane will fly over Goldsby and release clay dust, powdered egg white, polyethylene glycol, ethanol and Bacillus Thuringiensis, or BT, in the air.
The materials bear physical resemblance to agents that could be used in a chemical or biological attack, officials said.
The polyethylene glycol is found in many cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Ethanol is often used as a solvent and can be found in dyes, antiseptics and beverages. BT is a naturally occurring bacteria used to control moths and larvae. The BT to be used in the test will be irradiated.
We want them to know what were doing here, said Karen Baker, a spokeswoman for the Army. Were very aware of the heightened concern. We want to be good neighbors.
Baker said about 30 people attended Fridays session and most expressed concerns about what exactly will be dropped on them.
She said some people were concerned they could have allergic reactions to the egg white. Army officials are studying the situation to see if the materials should be used during the tests.
Similar tests were conducted in the Florida Keys, Baker said. She said the tests were successful.
Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists are completely wrong if they think Oklahoma was chosen for the test because officials think its a terrorist target, officials said.
Bob Kinne, test director, said the Sooner State was chosen simply because of its powerful radar network, which has been used for years to provide early warnings of severe weather.
The ultimate goal of the tests is to develop a warning system for emergency officials should a terrorist attack occur, he said.
If the system detected a material, for instance, emergency crews could be dispatched to collect samples to determine what was released.
Also, law enforcement could get a jump on investigating an incident or could evacuate an area before large numbers of people were exposed to any harmful substances.
All we can see is the fact that something came out of it (an airplane) Kinne said. This is only a small piece to the whole puzzle. It all has to work together.
The fact that I have a warning but dont get it to the right person, it doesnt work.
Over the next several months, more tests will be conducted and modifications will be made to the system, Kinne said. Officials hope to have the first working system in place in Albuquerque, N.M., by March 2004.
The goal is to have 100 to 150 sites across the nation to cover the most populated areas, which are considered prime terrorist targets