Photo: MGN Online

The U.S. Air Force has found unsafe levels of a likely carcinogen at a military base where a large number of men and women have reported cancer diagnoses.

The discovery of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in an underground launch control center at a Montana nuclear missile base “is the first from an extensive sampling of active U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile bases to address specific cancer concerns raised by missile community members,” Air Force Global Strike Command said in a press release on August 7.

The two launch facilities at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana showed PCB levels higher than the thresholds recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency, it said.

The EPA classifies PCBs, which are oily or waxy substances, as proven animal carcinogens and probable human carcinogens with the potential to cause rare blood cancers among other types.


In the meantime, U.S. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, directed his subordinates to note and address the issue and take “immediate measures to begin the cleanup process for the affected facilities and mitigate exposure by our Airmen and Guardians to potentially hazardous conditions,” according to the August 7 press release.

After a military briefing was obtained by The Associated Press in January showing that at least nine current or former missileers at Malmstrom were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a rare blood cancer, the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine launched a study to look at cancers among the entire missile community.

And, based on new data from a grassroots group of former missile launch officers and their surviving family members, there could be hundreds more cancers of all types.

The Torchlight Initiative found that at least 268 troops who served at nuclear missile sites, or their surviving family members, have self-reported being diagnosed with cancer, blood diseases, or other illnesses over the past several decades.

It is noteworthy that the missileer community is very small. Only a few hundred airmen serve as missileers at the country’s three silo-launched Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile bases at Malmstrom, FE Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Since the Minuteman operations began in the early 1960s, there have been only about 21,000 missileers, in total.

Minuteman missileers serve in underground launch control centers where they are responsible for monitoring, and if needed, launching fields of silo-based nuclear weapons.

Missileers spend their duty time on watch in underground bunkers, ready to turn the key and fire Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles if ordered to do so by the U.S. President.

The infrastructure and equipment at the sites are decades old and missileers have raised health concerns multiple times over ventilation, water quality and potential toxins they cannot avoid as they spend 24 to 48-hour shifts on duty underground.

The U.S. Air Force’s carcinogens report comes as the risk of nuclear weapons is higher than at any time since the Cold War era, according to the United Nations.

Max Blumenthal, founder and editor-in-chief of The Grayzone, rebuked the United States, followed by its Western lackeys, for knowingly “escalating a proxy war against the world’s largest nuclear Power.” 

Blumenthal recalled that U.S. President Joe Biden in March 2022 characterized the West’s provision of weapons and munitions to Ukraine to fight Russia as “World War III.”

He noted that “Biden changed his tune” just over a year later, asking, “Why are we tempting nuclear annihilation by flooding Ukraine with advanced weapons and sabotaging negotiations at every turn?” (