Dugway plans bio-warfare testing center expansion

The Dugway Proving Center in Tooele County, Utah, is planning to expand a facility where biological agents and toxins are tested.

Big-D Construction, a Salt Lake City-based company, received a $22.6 million contract to expand Dugway's 33,150-square-foot Lothar Salomon Life Sciences Test Facility by an additional 41,000 square feet. The expansion will enable the military to develop and test protection, identification, detection and decontamination equipment for first responders and the armed forces, the Tooele Transcript Bulletin reports.

The project is anticipated to begin next spring and be completed by May 2015.

"The Department of Defense is concerned about the threat to the security of the United States by hostile nations and terrorist organizations that could pose a significant danger to both civilian populations and the Armed Forces of the United States," Bonnie Robinson, the public information officer for Dugway, said, according to the Tooele Transcript Bulletin. "The concern is the threat of biological warfare. Our job at Dugway Proving Ground is to help protect our service members, first responders and the American citizens from a biological attack by ensuring that warfighters and the responders both have the best protective gear and testing and decontamination equipment to ensure a quick and successful response."

The facility is the only Department of Defense facility certified to test developmental equipment with such agents as biological toxins, viruses and bacteria. The lab space after the expansion will be approximately 60 percent biosafety level 2 and 40 percent biosafety level 3.

"One significant advantage of the addition is that it will allow us to designate specific labs for molecular biology only, and allow us to facilitate better work flow and recommended standard practices," Douglas Anderson, the chief of the Life Sciences Division, said, according to the Tooele Transcript Bulletin. "The expansion will allow us to conduct concurrent tests using BSL 3 containment aerosol chambers, which had been somewhat restricted by space prior to the addition."