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Pentagon keeps secrets on cancer-causing toxins – lawsuit

Groups representing US military veterans have sued to demand information on hazardous materials at K2 base in Uzbekistan

The Pentagon has hidden information on uranium, nerve gas and other hazardous materials that allegedly sickened American troops when they were stationed at an Uzbek military base in the early years of Washington’s war in Afghanistan, groups representing ex-soldiers have claimed in a lawsuit.

The federal court lawsuit was filed on Monday in Connecticut, demanding that the Pentagon turn over its records on the toxins to which troops were exposed at the Karshi-Khanabad Air Base, known as “K2,” during US operations there from 2001 to 2005. At least 15,777 US service members were deployed at the base, from which US troop transports and air strikes on targets in Afghanistan were staged.

“These K2 victims have been living with this truth inside their bodies for over 20 years, and many died as that toxic truth took them to their early graves,” Kim Brooks, a board member for the Stronghold Freedom Foundation, said on Monday at a press briefing in New Haven, Connecticut. “Yet we still do not know exactly what lurked in the air and water and the earth at K2. We do not know because the government refuses to release the records of the toxins found at K2.”

Brooks’ husband, US Army Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Brooks, died of a brain tumor at age 36 in 2004, less than three years after being stationed at K2. A preliminary study by the US Army found in 2015 that K2 veterans were five times more likely than other troops to develop cancer. The contaminants allegedly included pools of “black goo” that caused troops to pass out.

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A US Department of Defense spokesman contacted by ABC News on Monday declined to comment on the lawsuit. The Pentagon has claimed that it’s doing a more in-depth investigation because the 2015 study was too limited to show a definitive link between K2 and serious illnesses.

US Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who joined the plaintiff groups at Monday’s press conference, said the lawsuit shows the government’s “neglect and disregard of our veterans.” He added that the list of hazardous materials to which troops were exposed at K2 is “staggering, and the neglect is stunning.”

The lawsuit marks just the latest controversy over exposure of US service members to carcinogens and other toxins. The Pentagon acknowledged last month that US military pilots and ground crew members have contracted various types of cancer at abnormally high rates. In February, the US Air Force expanded its investigation of cancer risks for troops stationed at the country’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) bases. Veterans have claimed high rates of cancer, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, among people who worked at the ICBM bases.

READ MORE: US expands probe of cancer risks at ICBM bases


April 05, 2023 at 12:27AM

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