Camp Crowder's hidden gas
February 15, 2016
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) claims to be rallying support for a Missouri octogenarian nursing home patient named Arla Harrell who at the age of 18 was subject to secret testing of mustard gas at Camp Crowder in Neosho. McCaskill's concern was intensified after finding a report prepared by the US Army Corps of Engineers- Kansas City District (USACE-KCD) dated July 2012. It was asking for public comment regarding the need for remediation of land around Fort Crowder that had been used for testing and storage of hazardous chemicals used in warfare.

A decision document - Ft. Crowder Warfare Materiel Site finally was created in 2015 to determine what steps should be taken if any to remediate the area. Most interestingly, in section 2.10.9 it was noted that while the 2012 document had been made available for public review and comment, that "the community did not submit written comments during the public comment period..... "

Having no objections from the community, the finding was that total remediation was unnecessary and, more likely the reason, costly, The determination to provide educational awareness and long-term management was the selected remedy.

Feeling guilty about not having known about or covered the public information period in question, staff at the JOPLIN INDEPENDENT did a search on the Internet to try to find any coverage on this topic from either the Neosho Daily News or the Joplin Globe. This proved unsuccessful. In addition, nothing online was found in reference to a media release purportedly disseminated in 2003 by USACE-KCD to notify the public about environmental issues at the camp.

McCaskill has called attention to an article dated February 7, 2016, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by Chuck Raasch in which he has shown a spotlight on Harrell and thousands of others subjected to World War II mustard gas experiments. The article, "Missouri World War II vet has mustard gas explosive claims denied by the Veterans Administration," reveals that Harrell has been rejected three times by the Department of Veterans Affairs for claims to help treat a lung disorder and skin cancer that his family believes are connected to his Ft. Crowder exposure.

"I'm fighting for Arla and his fellow servicemembers who were subjected to these experiments-men who have sacrificed far more than any soldier should- to get the long-overdue recognition, compensation and care they deserve from their government," McCaskill wrote. "And I'm not giving up."

Maybe, while she's at it, McCaskell would like to take on the issue of exposure to agent orange that has caused the premature cancer deaths of many Vietnam vets.

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Arla Harrell beverly1175802016-05-16 18:48:40