ARKANSAS CITY - When the Department of Homeland Security announced in November a plan to release chemicals at the Chilocco Indian School in Newkirk, Oklahoma, nearby residents of Arkansas City, Kansas, grew concerned.
That concern was relayed to their local representative, Congressman Ron Estes, at a meeting at the Ark City Senior Center. Gregory Baker, a representative from Congressman Ron Estes' office, attended the meeting and addressed many of the public's concerns. He said Estes was never informed about the tests the Department of Homeland Security was planning.
This joined in a growing opposition from Newkirk, and helped spark the government to postpone things. The DHS made the announcement last week saying it suspended its plans to release chemicals on the Chilocco Indian School campus as part of a test for a biological attack.
"During the public comment period, DHS received many comments objecting to the proposed tests at the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School," said a statement released by Homeland Security. "Based on the comments received from tribes, states, and local governments, as well as the concerns expressed from residents in the proposed test area, DHS is suspending plans to perform the proposed tests. While the work remains very important for the security of our nation, further evaluation will be conducted to identify the best location for future testing."
The DHS indicated it had planned to release inert chemicals that it said were harmless to humans. The experiment was designed to see how residents and structures might withstand a possible chemical attack by terrorists.
Cherokee County's representative, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) released the following statement regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to suspend plans to conduct chemical and biological tests in Oklahoma:
“I am pleased that the Department of Homeland Security listened to the concerns of Kansans and made the decision to suspend its plans to conduct chemical and biological tests near the Kansas border. Prior to any sort of chemical testing – hazardous or not – the federal government must make certain local residents understand its intended objective when it conducts any testing of this nature. While the chemicals DHS planned to use in these tests do not pose any bodily harm, Kansans deserve a thorough explanation when an event of this magnitude is occurring so close to where they live and raise their families.”