Remains of 9/11 victims sent to landfill, Pentagon reveals


Partial remains of 9/11 victims who could not be identified were sent to a landfill, the Pentagon revealed Tuesday.

The remains were incinerated by a military contractor, according to a widely cited government report.

The Detroit Free press cited the report as saying that the cremated remains were from people killed when a terrorist-hijacked airliner struck the Pentagon, killing 184 people, and from Flight 93 which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing 40.

There was mention of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

According to the Associated Press, the "surprise disclosure" had been given minor mention in a 2011 report on management flaws at Dover Air Force Base mortuary in Delaware.

The AP quoted a press secretary for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as saying that Panetta "never would have supported" the disposal of remains in a landfill. 

"He understands why families would have serious concerns about such a policy."

The Pentagon report was by an independent panel that had been asked to examine "gross mismanagement" at the Dover base, the first stopping point for fallen troops coming home from war overseas.

Body parts had been lost on two occasions, and remains that couldn't be identified or tested were cremated, the Sacramento Bee reported, then "then placed in sealed containers that were provided to a biomedical waste disposal contractor."

In 2006, the Bee cited the report as saying, the partial remains of four Navy personnel who died in a training plane crash were cremated and disposed of in a landfill.

And in January 2008, a Marine's widow received a $25,000 payout for "mental anguish" when her husband's personal effects were disposed of accidentally.

Meanwhile, the coroner who handled the remains of the 40 passengers and crew who died in the crash of United Flight 93 near Shanksville disputed aspects of the Pentagon report.

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review quoted Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller as saying, "That's not correct. No remains from here were ever sent to Dover, Del," a reference to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Miller said the unidentified remains from the Flight 93 crash were kept in three caskets and buried at the Flight 93 National Memorial site, in Stonycreek field where the plane went down, as part of a 10th anniversary ceremony.

Friends and relatives of the passengers and crew who died attended, Miller said.

(More from GlobalPost: Has Israel's regional isolation helped protect its economy?)

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