At least 61 US special operations forces who were deployed to a former Soviet base just a few hundred miles from the Afghanistan border have either died or have cancer, according to a new report by McClatchy DC’s Tara Copp.
The deployment, which began shortly after the 9/11 attacks, were to a military site in Uzbekistan called Karshi-Khanabad, known as K2. It was leased by the United States from the Uzbek government weeks after the 2001 terrorist incident, as it was in close proximity to al Qaeda and Taliban targets.
The US troops were greeted by “radiation hazard” warning signs, ‘black goo’ oozing fro the ground, and pond water that glowed green, according to the report.
K2 was contaminated with chemical weapons remnants, radioactive processed uranium and other hazards, according to documents obtained by McClatchy.
At least 61 of the men and women who served at K2 had been diagnosed with cancer or died from the disease, according to a 2015 Army study on the base. But that number may not include the special operations forces deployed to K2, who were likely not counted due to the secrecy of their missions, the study reported. –McClatchy DC
“Black goo” and other ominous signs
According to the report, the Defense Department knew K2 was contaminated from the start based on documents obtained by McClatchy which are now being made public (see below). After Uzbek soldiers who prepared the base fell ill in 2001, US Central Command ordered an intelligence review of hazards at the facility.
“Ground contamination at Karshi-Khanabad Airfield poses health risks to U.S. forces deployed there,” reads the classified report dated November 6, 2001, which added that the “tent city” the US military was building – which included tents for eating, sleeping and showering – were “in some cases directly on top of soil that probably was contaminated” by four separate hazards.
First, there was a missile storage facility that had exploded in June 1993. “Ground contamination from the explosion, and subsequent expulsion of missile propellant throughout the area is very likely,” the report said.
Two other hazards listed were an abandoned fuel storage facility and an abandoned aircraft maintenance facility identified as the likely sources of the “black goo” which the report said “is most likely a combination of oils, hydraulic fluids, glues, paints, solvents and lubricants.”
The fourth hazard noted in the report was that the northeast corner of the tent city was likely affected by “runoff from a CW [chemical weapons] decontamination site” which had appeared on U.S. intelligence imagery in 1987.
A separate Army environmental health study of K2 in November 2001 found small areas of dirt contaminated with asbestos and “low level radioactive processed uranium, both from the destruction of Soviet missiles.” –McClatchy DC
Additional assessments revealed pools of solvents around 3 feet underground.
“Part of this area has already been fenced off by US forces as an expansion area,” reads a November 15, 2001 document obtained by McClatchy. “To call this site a landfill is an insult to landfills.”