The World Trade Center
An American flag flies amid the wreckage of the World Trade Center in New York after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Reuters

A Pentagon advisory panel has discovered that portions of unidentified body parts of some of the victims killed in the 9/11 attacks were disposed of in a landfill, Associated Press (AP) reported.

The startling revelation came to light when an independent panel submitted a report to the Pentagon after reviewing the practices of a Dover Air Force Base mortuary based in Delaware. The report was prepared by retired Army General John P. Abizaid, who called for a news conference at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

According to the news service, findings in the report revealed that the ghastly manner in which the remains were disposed of was put into practice shortly after the attacks in 2011, when several portions of remains from the Pentagon attack and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, crash site could not be tested or identified. The report did not reveal if the remains of victims who died in New York were handled in a similar manner.

A Washington Post report said that the remains were cremated and sealed as biomedical waste in containers that were then incinerated and the residue later dumped into a landfill site.

This recent disclosure comes nearly three years after mortuary officials were found guilty of gross mismanagement in handling human remains. The publication said that the Dover facility was also once heavily criticized for hacking a protruding arm bone of a dead Marine without seeking permission from his family, as well as losing body parts of two personnel on one occasion.

Families were outraged upon learning of the gruesome way in which the remains of the loved ones were handled. Although the practice was put to a halt in 2008, the Dover facility has apparently not followed those orders.

We don't think it should have happened, Abizaid is said to have told reporters at the conference, the AP stated.

Following the release of the report, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said he will take every step to safeguard the honor of the fallen servicemen, a Military Web site stated.

My continuing promise to all the families of our fallen heroes is to protect the honor and respect that their loved ones richly deserve, Panetta said in the report.

AP stated that around 20,000 body parts were recovered from the World Trade Center that was struck by a hijacked plane nearly eleven years ago. Most of the remains were sent to Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island the following year. Some remains of those who died when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon site were buried at Arlington National Cemetery in 2012.