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DUGWAY VOWS TO RELEASE DOCUMENTS

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Dugway Proving Ground officials have pledged to release all documents pertaining to radiological testing as soon as they get permission from the Pentagon.

In a press release issued Thursday, Dugway spokeswoman Melynda Petrie said that Dugway is awaiting higher approval to declassify and release documents that address radiological testing during the 1940s and '50s."We are committed to full and complete disclosure of all radiological testing conducted here throughout history," said Petrie.

The press release was issued in the wake of news reports this week about a letter that Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt sent to President Clinton. In that letter, Leavitt requested that the Army release quickly all information pertaining to the testing.

Leavitt's letter was prompted largely by a Deseret News report in April that revealed the Army secretly conducted at least 27 radiological-warfare tests at Dugway, possibly as many as 600.

But Petrie said Leavitt's letter had no bearing on Dugway's desire for public disclosure.

"Dugway's commander (Col. James King) and staff are committed to finding these documents, getting them declassified and releasing them. We've been working toward declassification since last November and December."

Petrie said that 17 documents about the tests have been identified for declassification so far.

"Two days ago, we were given verbal declassification on the 17 documents, but we're still waiting on written approval before we can release them," she said. The process for declassification, however, is cumbersome and lengthy because it must go through several layers of command.

In addition to those 17 records, there may be more documents pertaining to radiological testing, in which varying quantities of various radioactive materials were dispersed from planes, bombs and other methods over the proving grounds.

The smallest of those until-now secret tests released 6.7 times as much radiation as the infamous Three Mile Island nuclear reactor accident. The largest known test released a whopping 2,000 times more, according to documents already obtained and reported on by the Deseret News.