Army Refuses to Give Reason for Expanding Dugway Proving Ground

Army Refuses to Give Reason for Expanding Dugway Proving Ground

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Army has refused to say why it wants to expand Dugway Proving Ground, and now it has rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for documents on the proposal.

The FOIA request was filed in October by the Deseret Morning News.

In rejecting the request, Brig. Gen. James R. Myles said, "We must withhold the documents in their entirety under Exemption 5 of the FOIA. All of the documents found responsive to your request are predecisional and deliberative in nature."

That exemption allows, but does not require, government agencies to withhold documents that debate proposals.

The News has appealed the denial to the secretary of the Army, the newspaper reported Thursday.

It argued that release of the information would be in the public interest and would reduce confusion and speculation about why the military is considering expansion of the base.

The Army has not said how big an expansion it is considering nor exactly where.

In 1988, the Army proposed expanding it to obtain 66 square miles south of the base after studies showed it was contaminated by old tests of chemical weapons.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management opposed the expansion and said that the Army should clean up any old munitions outside the proving ground.

Siblings Louise, Douglas and Allan Cannon jointly own land in the area and hold numerous mining claims there. They have suggested the military may be trying to forcibly obtain their lands, where contamination occurred but the military has refused to clean.

Court documents from Cannon lawsuits said that the Army attacked the Cannon's old family mines with 3,000 rounds of chemical arms for tests at the end of World War II. It also bombed the surface of 1,425 acres of Cannon family-owned land above the mines with more than 23 tons of chemical arms, including deadly mustard agent, hydrogen cyanide and Phosgene.

The Army said it had permission from the Cannons' grandfather for that testing.

The younger Cannons said contracts only recently found required cleaning of the land.

They contended the failure to do that has prevented working potentially lucrative gold mines.

Courts dismissed their claims saying they were filed too late.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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