Guantánamo

Health survey underway at Guantánamo’s Camp Justice

The flag flying over a portion of the war court complex, Camp Justice, as seen through a broken abandoned air hangar window at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Feb. 28, 2015, in an image approved for release by the U.S. military. The military currently forbids photography of vast portions of the complex, but lets journalists photograph the hilltop building, a former air control tower that currently has offices for court personnel and a currently disused medium security courtroom
The flag flying over a portion of the war court complex, Camp Justice, as seen through a broken abandoned air hangar window at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Feb. 28, 2015, in an image approved for release by the U.S. military. The military currently forbids photography of vast portions of the complex, but lets journalists photograph the hilltop building, a former air control tower that currently has offices for court personnel and a currently disused medium security courtroom MIAMI HERALD STAFF

An industrial hygiene team is carrying out “a comprehensive occupational and environmental health survey” at the war crimes court compound at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, following concerns there may be carcinogens at the site, a base spokeswoman said Thursday.

The Industrial Hygiene team from the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center arrived on Tuesday to conduct the survey of Camp Justice with no known departure date, said Kelly Wirfel, public affairs officer on the base. She disclosed that the experts were also doing a review of historical records “of all available environmental data and a medical records check” on the same day the base commander, Capt. David Culpepper, held a town meeting for military and civilians “who work, live or have spent time” near the court.

Camp Justice, with a $12 million maximum-security court, trailer park, offices and tent city is built atop the obsolete McCalla air field.

The Pentagon Inspector General’s office asked Culpepper to oversee the health investigation after a Naval Reserves officer filed a complaint July 14 citing seven instances of civilians and service members who contracted a variety of cancers and had spent time at Camp Justice. One of the seven, Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, had suffered cancer of the appendix and died days after the officer filed the complaint.

The Miami Herald has independently been looking into the incidence of cancer by people who spent time Camp Justice and found a small sample of a dozen people who suffered a wide range of cancers in recent years — including brain, colon and appendix cancer and instances of a tumor in one service member’s stomach and on the leg of another. In at least two of the cases, the patients were believed to have had cancer before staying at Camp Justice.

A Guantánamo fact sheet says those conducting the review include “epidemiologists, human health risk assessors, occupational and environmental physicians, environmental health specialists, industrial hygienists and other health experts who review medical and historical records, and available testing and sampling data to determine if there are any potential impacts or health risks associated with potential exposure to environmental hazards.”

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