Disposed jet fuel exposure may have caused cancer in Guantanamo employees
The United States Navy is in the process of investigating seven cases of civilians and military personnel developing cancer as a result of their exposure to disposed jet fuel at the United States base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The health complaint, filed with the U.S. Defense Department's Office of the Inspector General, calls for the removal of personnel from the base to test for carcinogens.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Over 200 personnel worked close to the suspected site, which was once used to dispose jet fuel and lies next to an abandoned runway. There are also suspected cases of asbestos exposure in an older building used to conduct military trials.
Because the base's detainees are held in a separate part of the complex, the health complaint does not extend to them.
U.S. Air Force Captain Michael Schwartz, a military defense lawyer who has worked on Guantanamo Bay for years, says, "We have been telling our chain-of-command for years that we don't feel safe living and working in the temporary facilities the government has erected for military commissions, but along with the Constitution, the government seems to want to sweep this under the rug."
Seven people out of 200 who develop cancer would be unusual if each patient developed the same type, but if different kinds are discovered, the illnesses could be due to other factors. If the investigation rules there's a similarity, it would add to a large array of problems surrounding the base, which Obama has been trying to shut down for years.
FACTS ABOUT GUANTANAMO BAY
As of February 2015, there are 122 detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
The Defense Departments spends about $150 million per year to run the base.
Over a six month period in 2004-2005, more than 14,000 pieces of mail were either received or sent by detainees.
Cover image: Wikimedia Commons