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Carcinogens found at Montana nuclear missile sites as reports of hundreds of cancers surface

by Chloe Baker
5 comments
fokus keyword: carcinogen

Unsafe amounts of a likely carcinogen have been discovered at underground control centers for nuclear missiles at a Montana base, where a significant number of individuals have been diagnosed with cancer.

A cleanup initiative has been mandated, marking the first in a broader examination of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile bases, focusing on cancer concerns raised within the missile community. Air Force Global Strike Command’s investigation revealed that two facilities at Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base have PCB levels exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits.

PCBs, classified by the EPA as a probable cancer-causing substance, are oily or waxy compounds. They have been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer that uses the lymph system to proliferate.

Gen. Thomas Bussiere of the Air Force Global Strike Command has ordered immediate action to clean the affected sites and minimize exposure to potentially harmful conditions for the military personnel.

Earlier this year, a military briefing showed that at least nine missileers at Malmstrom were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This prompted the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine to conduct a study examining the entire missile community for potential disease clusters. Additional data collected by a grassroots group suggests that hundreds more cases of various cancers may exist among former missile launch officers and their families.

According to the Torchlight Initiative, at least 268 individuals who served at nuclear missile locations, or their families, have self-reported diagnoses of cancer, blood diseases, or other ailments over past decades. Among these, at least 217 are cancer cases, including 33 non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases.

These numbers are especially striking given the small size of the missileer community, consisting of only a few hundred individuals serving at any given time. Since the early 1960s, there have been about 21,000 missileers in total. For comparison, the U.S. general population reports approximately 403 new cancer cases per 100,000 people each year.

The Minuteman III missile bases are located at Malmstrom, F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. Missileers, both men and women, are responsible for overseeing and, if required, launching silo-based nuclear weapons.

Constructed over 60 years ago, the Minuteman III silos and control centers have faced concerns regarding health-related issues like ventilation, water quality, and potential toxins.

The detection of PCBs at Malmstrom was part of an extensive investigation into reported cancers within the missile community, taking place between June 22 and June 29. During this time, a health assessment team gathered samples from the missile launch facilities. At Malmstrom, out of 300 surface swipe samples, 21 detected PCBs, with two above EPA’s required mitigation levels. Further test results from other bases are still pending.

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5 comments

Timothy K August 8, 2023 - 2:28 am

so how long has the gov known about this?? why are we only hearing about it now, it’s totally unacceptable.

Reply
Gary O August 8, 2023 - 2:47 am

With technology this old, its no wonder problems are surfacing. we need a complete overhaul of these facilities.

Reply
Sarah T August 8, 2023 - 2:53 pm

What about the families affected? How are they gonna be compensated? this is really scary stuff, stay safe everyone.

Reply
Mike J August 8, 2023 - 4:47 pm

Can’t believe this is happening in our own backyard! Something should have been done ages ago, its a shame.

Reply
Linda W August 8, 2023 - 6:51 pm

i have friends who served as missileers and now I’m really worried. I hope the cleanup efforts are fast and effective, the government must be held responsible!

Reply

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