(NewsSpace.com) – In 1945, the United States established its nuclear program, and for four years, it was the only nuclear power in the world. In the 1960s, US Air Force nuclear missile crews began working underground in silos. The conditions of these silos and the capsules service members worked in have largely been called into question, especially since there have been high numbers of cancer cases reported among those who worked underground. Reports have sought to deny any connection between the diagnoses and workplace safety, but once again, they’re in the news.
Air Force Reports Contradict Findings
The capsules and workplace conditions have been called into question since the 1980s. The documentation of potential toxic risks is not a new occurrence.
In 2001, the Air Force initiated an investigation that, by the end of the year, said, “The workplace is free of health hazards.” Four years later, a follow-up review once again denied any connection, saying that “illnesses tend to occur by chance alone.” Yet, the claims of high cancer cases have persisted, and now the capsules are once again under scrutiny.
Last year, The Associated Press filed several requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and gained access to hundreds of documents that date back 40-plus years. What’s interesting is that the subsequent reports by the Air Force tell a different story than the documents.
A year ago, the AP reported that there were at least nine military officers, specifically missileers, who had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer that has a high survival rate. That report led to many more coming forward to report their diagnoses, which led to another investigation of the silos and capsules.
In August, it came to light that the Air Force had initiated another investigation and conducted “extensive sampling,” which turned up a likely carcinogen reading at unsafe levels. A subsequent order was issued to clean up the missile sites in Montana.
This year is expected to bring new data, and the Air Force is also working on obtaining an official count of the number of missileers that have cancer. Yet, while some applaud the branch for being transparent, others are worried there will be more sweeping under the rug. According to Fox News, Steven Mayne, who used to work as a nuclear missile facility supervisor in North Dakota, believes other agencies, including “the EPA [and] OSHA,” along with Montana and North Dakota senators, “need to look into this matter.”
The older capsules, which are in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming, will be shut down in a few years with a new control center built on top. The Air Force is expected to consider the recent findings when implementing new designs.
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