Anthrax Disease caused by bacterium ‘Bacillus anthracis’ Cutaneous, respiratory, and intestinal Cutaneous, respiratory, and intestinal Anthrax spore consists of several structural layers Long-lived and extremely resistant to adverse environments Amino acids are required for germination
Location North-West coast of Scotland In Gruinard bay 1.5 square mile in area Two miles from the mainland
History of Gruinard Island December 1941, agents from the British Ministry of Defence cast out the shepherd and his sheep and declared island a prohibited area At this point the island was known as X- base
Testing on Gruinard First test, Wednesday July 15 th, 1942 15 sheep brought to island and placed in crates in a rough arc of approx 100 yards from detonation point Bomb loaded with anthrax spores and detonated Sheep kept in holding area, deaths started 3 days after exposure Sheep carcasses thrown over a cliff and buried under rocks
Other tests on Gruinard 20mm hollowed out, anthrax filled bullets fired at armour plating to simulate German tanks September 26 th,1942. Wellington bomber released a thirty pound anthrax bomb. Unfortunately the bomb exploded in soft peat which contaminated the ground but no animals
De-contamination 1943: Very little known about de-contamination techniques Scientists who ran the testing facility didn’t even know anthrax might have penetrated into the ground Dr Paul Fildes decided to de-contaminate the island by burning off all the vegetation. Imagine his surprise when this did not work!
De-contamination 1944-1978: No attempt at de-contamination was attempted during this period Yearly soil samples were taken to test for the presence of anthrax spores Signs were put up all round the island to warn off tourists
De-contamination Solutions 1978-1986: Several ideas for de-contamination were suggested, these included; 1.Encasing the entire island in concrete 2.Stripping the topsoil and dumping it in the Atlantic ocean 3.Using the island as a nuclear waste facility! Ionizing radiation including X-rays, UV light and electron beams
De-contamination Solutions Heat Destroyed by steam under pressure for one hour Destroyed by steam under pressure for one hour boiling water for 30 minutes with disinfectants boiling water for 30 minutes with disinfectantsDisinfectants Peracetic acid; formaldehyde; chloride solution; potassium permanganate; hydrogen peroxide; iodine Peracetic acid; formaldehyde; chloride solution; potassium permanganate; hydrogen peroxide; iodine
Formaldehyde, H 2 CO Can inactivate, stabilize, or immobilize proteins Kills most bacteria solution of formaldehyde in water used as a disinfectant Formalin aqueous solution containing 37-50% formaldehyde and 6-15% alcohol stabilizer
The reaction of Formaldehyde with proteins Metz, B. et al. J. Biol. Chem. 2004;279:6235-6243
De-contamination 1986-1987: 1986; Final de-contamination began After intensive soil testing scientists determined the contaminated area to cover a mere 3.7 hectares Technicians used irrigation lines to seep 5% solution of Formaldehyde and seawater into the contaminated soil 50 litres of solution used per m 2
De-contamination Detonation point of bomb dropped from Wellington bomber was injected with Formalin Total of 280 tonnes of Formaldehyde and 2000 tonnes of seawater were used Two months after first decontamination attempt dangerous amounts of anthrax spores were found in isolated pockets. These were re-treated with Formalin End of 1987, anthrax levels were deemed to be at “safe limits”
Gruinard island remains uninhabited to this day
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