Weâve written before about the problem of contaminated water at the Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina. Between 1957 and 1987, the baseâs water was contaminated with the industrial chemicals TCE and PCE, which are linked to a long list of health problems, including leukemia and neural tube defects in children exposed in the womb. Although 1,500 former base residents had filed damage claims totaling $33.8 billion, the Agency for Toxic Substances and DiseaseÂ Registry (part of the Department of Health and Human Services) stood by a report that claimed drinking and bathing in the contaminated water posed little or no increased cancer risk.
Earlier this week, the Associated Pressâs Rita Beamish reported that ATSDR has reversed its stance and withdrawn the 1997 report due to âomissions and scientific inaccuracy.â That document omitted information about benzene that was also found in a Camp Lejeune well, and it underestimated the extent of contamination in the areas where base residents lived. Also, newer science has characterized TCE as being even more potent than previously thought.
Beamish and the AP deserve credit for sticking with this story; it was their investigation that in 2007 revealed the underestimation of contamination in base housing areas. It appears that ATSDR is also working hard to correct past mistakes. (Perhaps in response to the House Science and Technology Committeeâs Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, which has been holding hearings highlighting the agencyâs inadequate response to public health problems.) What Iâm still looking for is an indication that the Department of Defense is ready to stop dragging its feet on its contaminated sites.
Beamish notes in her article that the underestimation of contamination in the 1997 ATSDR report was due to âinadequate informationâ from the military. The picture that has emerged from the APâs investigation and Congressional testimony is that this âinadequate informationâ wasnât a simple mistake â it was part of a pattern of blocking the release of documents that health officials need.
The problem isnât confined to Camp Lejeune, either. The Department of Defense is also one of the agencies thatâs behind the slowdown of EPAâs Integrated Risk Information System assessments, which inform federal environmental standards and many environmental protection programs at the local, state, and even international level. The Government Accountability Office investigated the IRIS program last year and found that the top reason EPA has been so slow to issue new chemical assessments is a new âinteragency reviewâ process. Hereâs what the GAO report says about the history of that process:
This process, initially conducted on an ad hoc basis, was put in place in response to interagency conflicts that EPA faced when it attempted to finalize some IRIS assessments for chemicals that became highly controversial, such as perchlorate, naphthalene, and TCEâchemicals that are or have been considered by some federal agencies, including DOD, DOE, and NASA, to be integral to their missions. Notably, EPAâs IRIS assessments of these chemicals could lead to regulatory actions that could, among other things, restrict the use of these chemicals, require agencies to provide protective gear to their employees exposed to the chemicals at work, or require agencies or their contractors to carry out or pay for cleanup of contamination at federal sites. The interagency conflicts about these IRIS assessments have contributed to their delaysâresulting, for example, in EPA having to essentially restart the naphthalene assessment after it had been drafted and peer reviewed.
Iâd like to know more about how ATSDR finally got the Camp Lejeune information on the extent of contamination in the base housing area. Did the publicity and pressure surrounding last yearâs hearing and investigation convince them that they couldnât drag their feet any longer? Or did they perhaps have a change of heart and realize that being open about the environmental impacts of their operations is the right thing to do? Iâd like to think itâs the latter, but itâs not time to call off scrutiny of DoDâs stance on environmental matters yet.
14 thoughts on “ATSDR Reversal on Camp Lejeune Water – Will DoD Follow Suit?”
Hello Liz, Thanks for the article. What happened on Tuesday took a lot of blood sweat and tears. Jerry, Denita, Jeff, Sandy and I are all members of ATSDR Community Assistance panel for Camp Lejeune. I’d be happy to speak with you about how we accomplished what we did.
Wow. Wonder if ATSDR will ever reverse itself on some of the public health findings they made in Martin County after the coal slurry disaster there back in 2000.
well written article,thank you.Mike Partain was correct in that a great deal of time and effort has gone into delving into all the details of how this American
Holocaust has been covered up by the Marine Corps/Navy and Justice.
Mike failed to mention that I too am a member of the Lejeune CAP and have
been developing the details since 1999 when I first found out about the
water contamination at Lejeune.That bit of info helps to explain why my family lost a son in 1966 while stationed at Lejeune,wife also lost in 2006 to
the water-borne VOCs.
I too am ready to assist if desired,prefer telephone:208 882 0061
Liz, My name is Terry Dyer and I founded the group THE STAND. I too have been fighting this thing for over 10 years. I was on the cap but felt like it was no more than a dog and pony show after years of meeting after meeting and getting nothing done other than playing the blame game. I felt that I could be of better use working daily getting the word out to the Hill. We started an education campaign over a year ago that we are really getting a great response from. We fax, call or email a different member of congress every day and “educate” them about LeJeune. We ask for their help with future legislation, congressional hearings, letters to the ATSDR and the Marine Corps to demand that they finish up these studies as well as starting new ones and being completely transparent with all paper work dealing with LeJeune. We ask that they get “on board” with demanding that DOD judicate the claims that have been in the JAG office, many of them for over 8 years! And that they reguest that the VA start helping the vets that are filing claims for disablity from the illnesses they are dealing with because of their time on post at LeJeune. We have close to two thousand members in our group. ALL of them have suffered and continue to suffer. Thank you for your continued interest in our plight. If you would like to contact me, please call 910-262-3946 or mail me thru info @ watersurvivors.com. Thank you….Terry Dyer
THROUGH THE EFFORTS OF MANY WHO WERE AT CAMP LEJEUNE WHO HAVE SUFFERED DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FROM THE EXPOSURE, WITH RESOURCES AT HAND, USING PHONE CALLS, FAXES, F.O.I.A. REQUESTS, DOCUMENTATION AND AN EDUCATIONAL CAMPAIGN AS WELL AS LOCAL NEWSPAPERS HAVE CONTINUED TO MOVE FORWARD. WHAT HAPPENED AT CAMP LEJEUNE IS NOTHING LESS THAN A “NATIONAL TRAGEDY”. IT IS NOW TIME FOR VETERANS, THEIR FAMILIES AND CIVIVLIAN WORKERS WHO WERE ASKED TO SERVE TO BE GIVEN THE RESPECT THEY HAVE EARNED. WITH THE TASKS SO OVER-WHELMING, NO “ONE” PERSON COULD ACCOMPLISH THIS.
I am a member of the Camp Lejeune contaminated water at the ATSDR.
In the past, other members of the CAP (community assistance panel) have challenged the 1997 PHA to no avail. I had part of my throat removed in 1997 and last summer I had my left lung removed. There are more horrific details and I know there isn’t room here to list them all. I believe the final shoe dropped last Dec 08 when I sent an E-mail to Deputy director Tom Sinks asking him to please remove it from the web-site and than more pressure at the CAP meeting from the CAP memebers in April, and then finally another from me telling about how I died and they brou8ght me back only to find the cancer has spread to my brain and heart and ascending aorta. So to answer your question….it was pressure from too many victims and I got their attention on behalf of the many suffering.
Feel free to contact me at the email@example.com.
I’M SURE THAT THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE THAT HAD BROUGHT THIS TO THEIR ATTENTION. OUR GROUP, WATERSURVIORS.COM MADE DILIGENT EFFORTS FOR YEARS TO KEEP THIS IN THE FOREFRONT, WITH MANY VICTIMS WITH SERIOUS HEALTH EFFECTS LIKE YOURSELF, SOME OF WHICH WHO ARE NO LONGER WITH US. A SURGE BY ALL WAS DONE STARTING OCTOBER OF 2008 TO MAKE CHANGES TO THIS MISINFORMATION. PERHAPS IT WAS THE OUTCRY OF SO MANY FROM DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS, THAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE. KEEP IN MIND A SINGLE GRAIN OF SAND ALONE IS A GRAIN OF SAND, MANY GRAINS OF SAND FORM A BEACH. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME AT firstname.lastname@example.org ONE LAST NOTE, WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK EVERYONE AT WATERSURVIORS FOR ALL THEIR HARD WORK. CANDY
Remember, a cat box has a lot of sand…and it looks like the dog and poney show has won best in show. Just a couple of thoughts.
CAT BOXES GIVE INSPECTORS SOMETHING TO DO. IT’S OBVIOUS THAT YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED IN THE VICTIMS GETTING HELP. SINCE WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THIS, THE ONES THAT WE HAVE HELPED HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH LITTERING. IT IS THE VICTIMS THEMSELVES THAT HAVE KEPT THIS GOING, AND TO DIMINISH WHAT THEY HAVE DONE IS THE BIGGEST INSULT THAT ANYONE COULD INFLICT. EITHER YOUR NOT A VICTIM, OTHERWISE YOU WOULD’NT BE ATTACKING YOUR OWN, OR YOU THINK THAT YOU SINGLE HANDEDLY ACCOMPLISHED WHAT HAS TRANSPIRED. OF COURSE PERCEPTION IS REALITY, FOR SOME. BASED ON A POSTING BY TOM TOWNSEND, POINT PROVEN. WE’RE DONE WITH THIS, WE HAVE WORK TO DO FOR THE VICTIMS. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AND WE WILL TOO. CANDY
Cry me a river.
Has anyone ever told you that typing in all caps is considered rude and improper netiquette? If you have this bad of etiquette online, I can only imagine what it is like in person.
Iâm fairly certain that most schools teach their Kindergarten students the difference between uppercase and lowercase letters.
email Erin Brockovich Do you remember the movie. See if she will help. This is what she does.
As many people are touched by the poison water at Lejeune, I am very involved and this has touched my family. I was a SNCO at Lejeune and was always away from the base as most Marines. But my family was there. My wife passed away at the age of 39 with several different cancers. No one else in her family has had cancer. Also my Daughter at about 13 had tumors on her reproduction organs. She has had many operations to remove them. She is now 32. My son has a reproduction illness. Being that they were both born at the Naval Hospital at Lejeune, son in 1973 and daughter in 1976 they both have medical issues. I have been watching this scary Lejeune water investigation for many years. There has been a lot of different issues raised by so many people, many of them Marines that it has to be dealt with ASAP. People of this country, this is not going to go away. This problem now is affecting 3rd generations. I have spoke with many Marines my age who have had their children die from cancer. The rate of death of the people who lived at Lejeune is about double that of the rest of the country. Most Marines will do anything their country ask of them to do. But letting their families die is not one of them. We as people of this country need to push to get help for the very ones that were there to protect and serve,to make sure that freedom is a way of life here. Once you read this, tell others about the way that our country’s protectors families and many of the Marines have been make sick by the poison water at Lejeune. B. EAMES USMC 1967-76
HEY WHERE’S WALDO,
FOR YOUR INFORMATION “ALL CAPS” IS MY SIGNATURE WRITING. I USE IT TO GET ATTENTION AND I GUESS IT WORKED BECAUSE IT GOT YOURS!!
APPARENTLY YOU’RE NOT A VETERAN, DUE TO YOUR LACK OF RESPECT AND CONCERN FOR THE CAMP LEJEUNE VETS AND THEIR FAMILIES.
DID ANYONE EVERY TEACH YOU TO STAY ON TOPIC WHEN MAKING A POST? SURE DOESN’T LOOK LIKE TO ME.
NO, YOU DON’T KNOW ME, IF YOU DID YOU WOULD KNOW THAT WE HAVE HAD GREAT SUCCESS IN GETTING SOME CAMP LEJEUNE VETERANS HELP.
AS FAR AS MY “ALL CAPS” IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT YOU CAN “KMA”.
OOPS!! MISPELLED A WORD. INSTEAD OF “EVERY” IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN “EVER”. JUST THOUGHT I’D POINT THAT OUT BEFORE YOU DID.