WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is scheduled to release an odorless, invisible, and yes, harmless, gases into the city Thursday to test how quickly they spread through buildings, officials said.
The test is part of the military’s national security preparation for the capital area.
Over the past few years, the defense agency has worked with Arlington County to set up chemical sensors throughout the county, where thousands of defense employees work in leased office space.
The Pentagon has also supplied the sensors and accompanying monitoring equipment to Arlington for the county’s own use.
“Within minutes, if someone attacks the Pentagon, it becomes a problem for Arlington,” Director Paul Benda said. Pentagon Force Protection Agency.
The sensors scan broad areas, Benda said.
If weather cooperates, the Pentagon will release perfluorocarbon tracers, which are commonly used commercially to detect leaks, and sulfur hexafluoride, a common window insulator filling, near the Jefferson Plaza building at 10am on Thursday and Friday.
Officials in yellow vests will set up 80 battery-operated samplers – toolbox-looking cases with 12 air tubes inside of them – throughout Crystal City and will check the air samples in the tubes afterwards to evaluate how quickly and how high the gases spread.
The data will help the Pentagon and Arlington shape their lockdown policies for chemical and biological attacks or accidents, and will also help them determine the most effective locations for sensors.
“We want to place our sensors so we can detect this stuff as quickly as possible,” Benda said.
The test, dubbed “Urban Shield: Crystal City Urban Transport Study,” is similar to one conducted in Manhattan a few years ago, officials said.
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US Department of Defense
February 28, 2008 – Press Advisory No. 024-08
Pentagon, Arlington Chemical Test Roundtable Announced
The Pentagon Force Protection Agency’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Explosives Directorate (PFPA-CBRNE), in cooperation with Arlington County, will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of a simulated chemical release in an urban area In early March,. This cooperative test will occur in the Crystal City area and will provide valuable information for both Arlington County’s and the Pentagon’s response to a chemical attack.
A media roundtable to brief interested reporters on the specifics of the test is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. EST, Feb. 29 in Pentagon, Room 5B890.
The study, called the Crystal City Urban Transport Study (CCUTS), will involve releasing a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and inert tracer gas that poses no health or safety hazards to people or the environment. These tracer gases are used commercially for leak detection and building ventilation efforts and were used in a similar atmospheric study in Manhattan, New York in 2005.
A number of air sample collectors will be placed at various locations in Crystal City buildings and parking lots to evaluate airflows in this urban environment. Some outdoor samplers will be mounted on light poles in baskets while others will be placed on the ground. All test equipment will be clearly marked with PFPA and Arlington County contact information. Test equipment should not be touched or moved.
Two days of testing are planned. Each test should last less than six hours. The first two weeks of March are the target timeframe for this weather-dependant event.
There will be no impact to normal activities for any occupants of the test area.
To attend the media roundtable, journalists without a Pentagon building pass should plan to arrive at the Pentagon Metro Entrance no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of media affiliation and two forms of photo identification. Please call (703) 697-5131 to confirm attendance and for escort into the building.