Washington (CNN)A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday released a collection of newly declassified Defense Department documents indicating that US troops who were deployed to a Central Asian base in the wake of the 9/11 attacks were likely exposed to a dangerous mix of toxins and other hazards, which some believe has led to increased cancer rates among US service members stationed there.
The base in question was a former Soviet military installation called Karshi-Khanabad air base in southern Uzbekistan, often referred to as "K2," which served as a key logistical hub for US forces during the campaign to target al Qaeda and the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Thousands of American troops were stationed there from 2001 until 2005, when Uzbekistan's then-President Islam Karimov ejected US personnel from the country following US criticism of his government's crackdown on protesters and its human rights record.
The documents released Thursday by the House Oversight Committee's Subcommittee on National Security include the 2001, 2002 and 2004 environmental hazard surveys and health risk assessments that the Defense Department carried out on the base.
One survey from 2001 says the soil around the base was contaminated with jet fuel, and that "inhalation of vapors from exposed, subsurface fuel contaminated soils could potentially cause adverse health effects to personnel ... if sufficient exposure circumstances occur," recommending a prohibition against digging into soil contaminated with jet fuel.
A military health assessment from 2004 found that although "less than 10% of personnel will experience [radiation] exposures above background" at the camp, "the potential for daily contact with radiation exists for up to 100% of the assigned units."