Asbestos Concerns at Guantanamo Bay

There has been a great deal of news coverage about Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (GTMO), or “Gitmo” as it is often called, and the military prison camp located on the base.   This is, of course, Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, used to house detainees in the War on Terror. Much of the controversy in the media was because many of these prisoners were not charged with any crime, yet not afforded access to counsel for a significant amount of time.

navyshipEven though there has been a lot of pressure to close the prison camp, which has not happened for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is that the administration does not feel it has a suitable alternative for transferred released prisoners. While these problems are not in the news as much as they were in years past, that may change as part of the coverage surrounding the upcoming presidential election cycle.

However, GTMO is making headlines once again, but this it is not related to the reasons for the detention, but rather the news is related to the newly discovered risks of developing cancer, including mesothelioma, as the base may pose this danger to workers and other people at the camp.

According to a recent news article from, the United States Navy is now investigating the possibility of cancer risks (known carcinogens) being present at the base. This investigation was called for when the Inspector General alleged that there are at least seven civilian workers and military personnel employed at the detention center who have been diagnosed with cancer. This group, which doctors are calling a “cancer cluster,” is larger than medical research would suggest, absent the presence of cancer causing material. In this case, it has been suggested the cancer causing agents are jet fuel and asbestos.

The military has stated there are currently 115 prisoners being detained at the base, and they have not contracted cancer at a level any higher than one would expect in the general population. While this may seem odd, the reason the Inspector General has suggested for this is because it is believed the cancer-causing asbestos and jet fuel are located at the part of the camp where the military tribunals are held. The only people who spend a considerable amount of time here are the personnel who work directly on the military tribunals, including military lawyers and civilian defense attorneys who are visiting the base to assist their clients. The area where the prisoners are held nearly all the time is a considerable distance from the location of the military tribunals.

As our Boston mesothelioma lawyers can explain, when one is exposed to asbestos fibers, they can become embedded in the lung tissue and other tissue located in the abdomen, chest, and some other organs, known as the mesothelium. Once the fibers are present, there is no practical way for doctors to detect the fibers, and, even if there was, there is no effective way to remove them. Over time, they can metastasize into a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional resources:

GUANTANAMO BAY: Possible cancer cluster among U.S. workers, July 29, 2015,

More Blog Entries:

Can Family of Asbestos Workers Sue for Illness?, September 15, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog

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