When workers at the secret Groom Lake (“Area 51”) aircraft test facility in Nevada filed a lawsuit in the early 1990s alleging that they had been injured by fumes from open-pit burning of chemical waste associated with stealth aircraft development, the government blocked the lawsuit by insisting that all information regarding the chemical waste was classified.
So it came as a surprise to researcher Stephen I. Schwartz when he discovered that some of this information had been published online by the Air Force in a document cleared for public release.
Specifically, a safety manual (pdf) intended for emergency responders identifies the “hazardous byproducts of burning wreckage” of an F-117A stealth fighter.
“It’s a textbook case of how the government, in this case the Air Force, wields classification rules unevenly and withholds information illegally when its disclosure would prove embarrassing or costly,” said Stephen Schwartz, the former publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
A copy of the document he found, entitled “F-117A Safety Supplement: Aerospace Emergency Rescue and Mishap Response Information,” U.S. Air Force Technical Manual, 19 May 2005 (see esp. pages 9-10) is available on the Federation of American Scientists web site (2.3 MB PDF).
The story was reported in “Warnings for emergency responders kept from Area 51 workers” by Keith Rogers, Las Vegas Review-Journal, May 21.
Attorney Jonathan Turley, who represented the Groom Lake workers, told the Review-Journal that as a result of the latest revelations he is “looking at the possibility of renewed litigation related to Area 51.”