Air Force Discovers Potential Carcinogen at Missile Base

Air Force Discovers Carcinogen at Missile Base

( – The United States has three active intercontinental ballistic missile bases where it stores its weapons. When a series of cancer diagnoses arose in former missileers at Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base, the military initiated a study, revealing quite disturbing results.

At the end of June, the US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine collected samples from launch control centers in Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota. They took samples from various surfaces, including the air, surface, ground, and water. According to initial results, the researchers “discovered PCB levels above the cleanup threshold” in two of its facilities. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed PCBs likely carcinogens.

On August 7, the Global Strike Command issued a release, saying it was taking “immediate measures to begin the cleanup process.” Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, Gen. Thomas Bussiere, said the “measures will stay in place until [he is] satisfied” that the USAF is “providing [its] missile community with a safe and clean work environment.”

The revelation that nine former missileers who worked at Malmstrom received diagnoses of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer, sparked the investigation. The disease uses the lymph system to spread, and the majority of those diagnosed live at least 5 or 10 years past their diagnosis.

This recent cluster isn’t the first health revelation among missileers, either. The Air Force probed the same base in 2001 after 14 USAF members received cancer diagnoses. Only two of those were non-Hodgkins lymphoma. In that incident, the Air Force cleared the base and declared it environmentally safe.

Missileers are also calling for a look into the underground control centers, built more than 60 years ago, citing concerns over the exposure to possible toxins and lack of water quality and ventilation issues they encounter while holed up for 24 to 48 hours as their jobs demand.

Gen. Bussiere has promised to inform the public when the testing results become final.

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