Good news: Pentagon reports no 9/11 victims were buried in landfill

Updating a story from several weeks ago, the Pentagon has assured Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) that no remains from United Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania during the 9/11 attacks, were buried in a landfill after passing through the Dover Air Force Base mortuary.

Senator Toomey wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta after a Pentagon report revealed that “several portions of remains” from United 93 might have ended up in the landfill, along with partial remains from America’s fallen soldiers:

I am deeply disturbed by press reports today indicating that some of these remains may have ended up in a landfill. According to a Washington Post report today, small amounts of unidentified remains from Shanksville and the Pentagon were cremated and then sent to a landfill for disposal.

However, Somerset County (Pa.) Coroner Wallace Miller told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review today that no remains from United Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, were ever sent to a military mortuary for disposal.

In light of these conflicting accounts, I ask that you promptly clarify if any remains from the Pentagon and United Flight 93 were cremated and disposed of in a landfill.

The heroic passengers on United Flight 93 gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, and their families deserve to know the fate of their remains. It is critically important that we get to the bottom of this matter, clear up any remaining doubts, and ensure that those responsible for any  mishandling of remains be held accountable.

In a statement released today, Toomey said he received a response from Jo Ann Rooney, the Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, who reported that “all Flight 93 DNA specimens sent to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory for testing were returned to Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller in 2005.”

Toomey thanked Secretary Panetta and the Pentagon for their response, and said he was “relieved to learn that no remains from United Flight 93 passengers were sent to a landfill for disposal.”  He added, “The families deserve the peace of mind of knowing that these remains were treated with the utmost respect and dignity.”