Global Strike Command Reports Initial ICBM PCB Survey Results

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  • By Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs
  • Air Force Global Strike Command

Air Force Global Strike Command is taking immediate measures to clean up and mitigate polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at two locations following the release of initial results as part of the Missile Community Cancer Study.

The intercontinental ballistic missile nuclear alert mission continues unimpeded throughout the cleanup and mitigation, continuing AFGSC’s strategic deterrence mission.

A team of bioenvironmental experts reported PCB sampling results from Malmstrom AFB, Montana, Aug. 4, 2023, the first from an extensive sampling of active U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile bases to address specific cancer concerns raised by missile community members across related career fields.

“Based on the initial results from the survey team, which discovered PCB levels above the cleanup threshold designated by law in two of our facilities, I directed Twentieth Air Force to take immediate measures to begin the cleanup process for the affected facilities and mitigate exposure by our Airmen and Guardians to potentially hazardous conditions,” Gen. Thomas Bussiere, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, said. “These measures will stay in place until I am satisfied that we are providing our missile community with a safe and clean work environment.”

A team from the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and the Defense Centers for Public Health (USAFSAM-DCPH) conducted air and swipe testing for PCBs and other contaminants at Malmstrom AFB from June 22-29. All air samples from the Launch Control Centers (LCCs) and the Launch Control Support Building were non-detectable for PCBs.

Three hundred surface swipe samples were taken from across all Malmstrom AFB LCCs. Of the swipes, 279 returned non-detectable results. Of the 21 with detectable results, 19 were below the mitigation level established by federal law and regulation.

Results are pending from samples taken at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, and Minot AFB, North Dakota analyzing air and surface tests. Results for completed ground and water samplings from all three ICBM bases are also yet to be finalized. When these results are finalized, the USAFSAM-DCPH team will be able to analyze the results in aggregate to guide a comprehensive and holistic response including recommended actions in the future.

According to the EPA, PCBs are an oily or waxy substance manufactured in the United States from 1929 to 1979, afterwhich they were banned. They were broadly used across industries in electrical, heat transfer, and hydraulic equipment and can persist for long periods in the environment. The EPA considers them a probable human carcinogen.

"I am committed to remaining transparent during this process, and I pledge to continue an open dialogue with Airmen, Guardians, their families and all other stakeholders as the Missile Community Cancer Study continues," said Bussiere.

Gen. Bussiere will be holding another round of townhalls to provide another opportunity for two-way communication between medical experts and the missile community.

More information about PCBs:

More information about the Missile Community Cancer Study: