A report released by the Pentagon on Tuesday reveals that the remains of some victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks were incinerated and dumped in a suburban Virginia landfill.
This latest news comes as the findings of a Defense Department-led investigation into the alleged mismanagement at the military mortuary at the Dover Air Force base in Delaware are revealed to the press.
Last year, the DoD acknowledged that the remains of at least 274 fallen troops were sent to the King George County landfill outside of Washington, DC. At the time, the military estimated that more than 2,700 fragments of body parts were entered into eternal rest at the garbage dump around 70 miles due-south from the Pentagon. Now, say officials, victims of 9/11 were also disposed of at the site.
The report, released Tuesday, says that the remains of the passengers killed in two separate tragedies on 9/11 were sent to the landfill. Victims of both the plane that was downed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and those aboard the jet that struck the Pentagon in Northern Virginia are some of those that were sent to Dover, then the landfill. Between the incidents involving both aircraft, a total of 223 people perished on September 11, 2001.
The Defense Department review reveals that “several portions of remains” made it to the Virginia landfill, but does not specifically account for a number. The body parts in question, says the Pentagon, “could not be tested or identified” due to charring and other damages that resulted from the tragedy.
The report adds that mortuary officials first believed that, “after final incineration, nothing remained” of the victims. Reviewing the report, the Washington Post reveals that residual material from 9/11 victims did exist, however, which were handed to a “biomedical waste disposal contractor” hired by the Pentagon that then approved for the remains to go to the landfill.
The mortuary at Dover is typically the site of examination for fallen soldiers killed in battle during America’s foreign wars. Following the September 11 attacks, however, experts at site undertook the examination of several victims. Previously the mortuary also analyzed the remains of the Americans killed during the mass-suicide at the Jonestown camp in 1978.
The Washington Post reveals on Tuesday that, earlier this month, Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), wrote Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to ask whether the Defense Department could confirm that “no 9/11 victims’ remains were incinerated, mixed with medical waste and sent to a landfill?” Staffers for the congressman confirm to the Post that they did not receive a response to their inquiry.
As an investigation into mortuary practices at Mortuary revealed gross mismanagement, one unnamed employee told investigators that “it was kind of hard to keep track of everything,” and noted that medical examiners were regularly “messing” with the Ziploc bags that contained various body parts.
It was also revealed earlier this month that some top-brass within the Air Force attempted to discipline the whistleblowers from the mortuary that came clean with the allegations of mismanagement.