18 Feb 2021 10:13

Uzbek State Ecology Committee to check former U.S. airbase for toxic substances, radiation

TASHKENT. Feb 18 (Interfax) - The Uzbek State Committee for Ecology and Environmental Protection is checking the former location of the U.S. airbase Karshi-Khanabad (2001-2005) for toxic substances and radiation, Committee Deputy Chairman Islombek Bokizhonov said on Wednesday.

"The Committee is doing research at its laboratories in order to verify the possible presence of toxic substances and radiation at the airbase," Bokizhonov said at a virtual briefing.

He noted that 17 chemical waste disposal sites were located in Uzbekistan in the Soviet period but those lands were remediated and the sites were shut down later.

Previously, every region in Uzbekistan had a small airfield for cotton crop dusting operations, Bokizhonov said.

"Perhaps, this kind of airfield was there, too," he said.

The Pentagon said earlier that the Americans stationed at the base were complaining about heat, noise and poor air quality. Besides, asbestos, which is bad for lungs, was found in the base buildings constructed in the Soviet period. In addition, radioactive uranium source created by the scrapping of Soviet missiles was detected nearby.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump proposed bigger benefits for U.S. servicemen formerly stationed in Karshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan, in one of his farewell executive orders. Trump tasked departments with studying possible health risks experienced by the U.S. citizens during their service at the base.

The Karshi-Khanabad airbase was transshipping U.S. servicemen and cargo to Afghanistan in 2001-2005.