VA Investigating Possible Nuclear Contamination at Naval Station in Antarctic

The Antarctic Naval station, McCurdo Station, at one time used a nuclear power plant (PM-3A) to supply electric power to the immediate area. The plant, which went live in 1962, was eventually shut down in 1973 due to “frequent malfunctions.” Those malfunctions likely led to radiation leaking from the plant, which may have been the cause of multiple cases of cancer in Navy veterans stationed there during the 1960s and 1970s.

Post-shutdown, final operating reports detailed the extent of the problems the plant faced. According to those reports, there were 438 malfunctions as well as more than 120 reported radiation leaks measuring higher than what is allowed.

Newly discovered reports, however, show grave issues within the plant not long after its 1962 launch. Those reports were made in 1967 by private engineers hired to find problems in the plant because the plant’s reactor required replacement after only 2 years online. The new reactor also had malfunction problems until the plant was closed 9 years later.

According to reports, the reactor core suffered 30 cracks. Without being able to discover its source, the engineers also discovered a fuel leak as well as increased levels of “fusion product” within the primary coolant.

Multiple Naval veterans who were stationed at McCurdo place the blame for their cancers on the leaking reactor. Barracks were located down the hill and just a few yards away from the plant. A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) report makes mention of radioactive material moving down that hill and into the barracks.

The VA is currently reviewing documents related to this situation. It is not yet known if these veterans will be eligible for disability compensation. The VA, however, suggested all McMurdo veterans with cancer to apply for benefits.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.