Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie acknowledged publicly Wednesday that service members who deployed to a Uzbekistan base used after the 9/11 attacks may have been exposed to toxic substances, asking for them to come forward to get help.
“Several years ago our soldiers, sailors, airmen in particular started seeing ‘black goo’ come up from the ground. We are working with the Department of Defense to get to the bottom of that,” said Wilkie, who was speaking at the National Press Club and took questions from reporters.
In December, McClatchy exclusively reported that the Pentagon knew about contamination at the Karshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan base, known as “K2,” before it deployed thousands of forces there. The Pentagon used K2 to launch airstrikes and support operations against al-Qaeda and the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks. Beyond the black goo, which may have been fuels and other solvents, McClatchy also uncovered documents showing that the Pentagon knew the base had been contaminated by enriched uranium and chemical weapons remnants.