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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Howe: It is to be expected that there will be carcasses of dead animals in any conflict and this was so in the Gulf. The local nomadic bedouin owned herds of both sheep and camels which normally grazed within the war zone on both sides of the border. As to the causes of death in those animals found, it is the opinion of the veterinary officer who was with the British Forces that the deaths were caused by either starvation, battle casualties or Iraqi and local culling. Samples from dead animals were sent back to the Edinburgh Veterinary School and Tropical Medicine Centre and were all found to have died of natural causes or such things as eating vehicle batteries. The reason for the lack of flies is put down to the wet, cold weather and lack of vegetation in the desert. Once forces entered Kuwait City, where vegetation was commonplace and sanitation bad, the flies returned.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Howe: The Czech equipment in the Gulf was their standard issue Field Portable Chemical Laboratory. It uses old technology of the wet chemistry variety and is not an alarm/detector such as US, UK and French troops possess but a rather slow identification and test system to confirm the nature of agents already known or suspected of being there. Although using old technology it is nonetheless effective for what it is designed to do. Current Western chemical agent alarm systems work on modern technology and give an immediate reaction to the presence of agents and a very speedy and accurate identification. As there are great differences in the nature of the two types of equipment, it is impossible to say whether one or the other is "superior", but Western equipment does afford a far more immediate alarm and therefore better protection, is easily portable and logistically simpler. It should be noted that all equipments used for alerting troops to the presence of chemical agents can react outside their normal range on occasions.

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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the CAM and NAIAD alarms issued to members of HM Armed Forces have the same sensitivity for detection of nerve gas as the American M8 A1 alarms, and if not, how do they differ.

Earl Howe: The American M8 A1 alarm is based on similar technology to the UK Chemical Agent Monitor (CAM) and therefore has a similar sensitivity. NAIAD detector is based on enzyme technology and as such has a much greater sensitivity for detection of nerve gases than either the American M8 A1 alarm or CAM.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they reconcile their Written Answers of 1st November 1994 and 8th December 1994 to the Countess of Mar, in which they state that the tank found in the grounds of a Kuwaiti girls school contained fuming nitric acid, with the evidence of Sergeant James Alan McQuoid that when he tested the contents of the tank the three-colour detector paper turned both red and green, indicating the presence of blister and persistent nerve agents, and this was confirmed by members of the US Forces in 21 tests carried out using Fox vehicles.

Earl Howe: The incident in the Sabahiyah High School for Girls has been extensively investigated. When the EOD clearance team discovered the tank, they carried out precautionary measures as specified in their standard operating procedures for when indications of chemical warfare agents were observed. Subsequently, samples of the contents of the tank were taken, treated as forensic evidence and returned to the then Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment at Porton Down. The samples were analysed and the results were consistent with the contents being nitric acid i.e., having a pH of 1 or 2 (highly acidic) and a high level of nitrate ions present. There was no evidence of chemical warfare agents present in the samples.

These analytical data coupled with the circumstantial evidence at the site of the incident are consistent with the supposition that the contents were fuming nitric acid and that the initial results obtained by the reconnaissance teams were erroneous. The circumstantial evidence included the immediate burning sensations experienced on contact with the material and the fact that the tanks had been purchased by the Iraqis originally to contain fuming nitric acid for rocket fuel.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware that, while pyridostigmine bromide used in NAPS (Nerve Agent Pre-Treatment Sets) may improve the survival prospects of individuals exposed to the nerve agent Soman and treated with atropine and 2-PAM, this drug makes individuals more vulnerable to other nerve agents such as VX and Sarin.

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Earl Howe: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. The Chief Executive will write to the noble Countess.

Letter to the Countess of Mar from the Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, Mr. John Chisholm, dated 4th June 1996.

Your parliamentary Question asking Her Majesty's Government about the efficacy of in-service nerve agent pre-treatment and therapy has been passed to me to reply as the Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, which includes the Chemical and Biological Defence Sector at Porton Down.

Staff at Porton Down are aware of media reports suggesting that pre-treatment with pyridostigmine bromide may reduce the level of protection provided by atropine/oxime therapy against VX and Sarin.

The hypothesis is not supported by animal studies carried out at Porton Down, which showed that the combination of pyridostigmine bromide pre-treatment tablets and triple therapy auto injectors containing atropine, pralidoxime mesylate (P2S) and avisafone (a soluble pro-drug of diazepam) which is provided to the UK armed forces gives excellent levels of protection against Soman, Sarin and VX.

The particular combination of atropine and 2-PAM cited by the press has not been tested by the UK but atropine and P2S is a close equivalent and our studies of this latter therapy, combined with pre-treatment with pyridostigmine, show no increase in vulnerability to poisoning by Sarin and VX.

I hope this information is helpful.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they reconcile their Written Answer of 21st March 1996 (WA 108) to the Countess of Mar that "there are no known chronic health effects arising from exposure to low levels of chemical warfare nerve agents" with information contained in the Iraqi Restricted Manual entitled: A Course in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection; that Taboon (sic) Agent, Zooman (sic) Agent, Sareen (sic) Agent and Multiple Seven Agent "have a cumulative effect; if small dosages are used repeatedly on a target, the damage can be very severe".

Earl Howe: The Iraqi document appears to refer to the cumulative effect of the repeated low level use of nerve agents on a single target. It is accepted that, if an individual is exposed to more than one dose of nerve agent within a short period, the effect will be cumulative. Repeated exposure to low levels of agent in these specific circumstances may produce symptoms of nerve agent poisoning, but is not known to lead to chronic health effects. There is no evidence that chemical or biological agents were used in the Gulf War.

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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether individual service medical documents were not sent to the Gulf at the time of Operation Granby, and, if not, by what means was treatment given to members of HM Armed Forces recorded while they were in the Gulf and what measures were taken to ensure that these records were transferred to the appropriate service medical documents in their entirety.

Earl Howe: Initially, Service medical records were taken by those units deploying at the start of Operation Granby but for operational reasons they were soon returned to their unit's home location. Thereafter, units deploying to the Gulf did so without their medical records. In keeping with operational practice, a field medical documentation system was introduced and medical incidents recorded for later collation with, or transference to, individual Service medical records at the end of the conflict. It is not known whether this information was successfully collated or transferred.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the possibility that members of HM Forces who served in Operation Granby and are suffering ill health may have brainstem encephalitis is considered by the Medical Officers conducting medical examinations.

Earl Howe: Yes. Brainstem encephalitis is one of the many illnesses considered by Medical Officers conducting examinations on Gulf Veterans at the Medical Assessment Programme.

Armed Forces: Sudden Deaths

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many sudden deaths have been recorded among members and former members of HM Armed Forces for each year since 1991; how many served in Operation Granby; in which units did they serve and to what causes, including suicide, were the deaths attributed.

Earl Howe: It is not possible to provide all the information requested. The figures below do not include ex-service personnel, as this information is not available. Nor is it possible in the time available to provide details relating to units or specific causes of death, other than those self-inflicted.

Sudden death is defined as a death occurring within 24 hours following injury or illness.

Sudden deaths of serving personnel 1991-95

YearServiceAll sudden deathsSudden deaths of Operation Granby personnelAll self-inflicted deathsSelf-inflicted deaths of Operation Granby personnel
1992RN262 50

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