After the events of 9/11, U.S. special operations forces deployed to military site, Karshi-Khanabad (K2), in Uzbekistan. It was at K2 where they encountered a pond that appeared like it was glowing green with black goo oozing from the ground. There were signs around the pond that stated, “radiation hazard.” Being an old Soviet base, K2 was leased by the U.S. from the Uzbek government. U.S. special operations deployed there after 9/11 because it was just a few hundred miles from Taliban and al Qaeda in northern Afghanistan. It was a location that offered critical support, providing airstrike support to U.S. ground forces in Afghanistan, and providing airdrops and medical evacuation.
Although K2 was such a critical hub, the base was contaminated with radioactive processed uranium, chemical weapons remnants and other hazards. According to a 2015 Army study, 61 men and women who were at K2 base have been diagnosed with cancer or died from the disease. Due to secrecy, special operations fores deployed to the base were not included in that count. Among those who got cancer, veterans and members have faced difficulty in getting the VA to cover the medical costs. In an effort to receive help, those who served at the base are submitting a letter to Congress.
According to McClatchy documents, the Defense Department knew the base was toxic. U.S. forces directed a review of the base after Uzbek workers fell ill after preparing the grounds for the U.S. forces. It was noted in a classified report that Karshi-Khanabad Airfield posed health risks to forces deployed there. The top soil that the “tent city” was built upon was contaminated. There was ground contamination from an explosion of a missile storage facility that occurred in 1993. The source of the “black goo” was likely from abandoned fuel storage and aircraft maintenance facilities, and was probably a combination of lubricants, paints, oils, hydraulic fluids, glues and solvents. Another hazard that was noted was a part of the “tent city” was affected by “runoff from a chemical weapons decontamination site.