Marine Corps Failed to Conduct Legally Required Water Tests at Camp Lejeune

Friday, February 08, 2013
Janey Ensminger (photo: Jerry Ensminger)

Marine Corps officials at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina have long insisted they were not required by federal law to test the base’s water supply, which has been the subject of much controversy due to decades of chemical contamination. But it turns out the Corps’ own rules dating back five decades mandated regular water testing that might have revealed the danger posed to thousands living on the base.


According to a 1963 manual covering all Marine Corps and naval bases, commanders were supposed to utilize a method known as Carbon Chloroform Extract (CCE) to protect “against the presence of undetected toxic materials in finished drinking water.”


The rule required annual testing, unless the water was found to be “stable,” in which case testing every two years was permitted. But no records of any CCE testing at Camp Lejeune could be found, base officials admitted to the Tampa Bay Times.


On August 6, 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law the Janey Ensminger Act, which provides health care for Marine Corps members and civilians and their families who were exposed to tainted water at the base between 1953 and 1987. The bill was named in honor of the daughter of a Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune who died of a rare form of leukemia when she was nine years old.


More than 185,000 service personnel and civilians who worked or lived on the base have signed up for a health registry because they drank or otherwise used water that turned out to have been contaminated, including more than 70 men who developed an extremely rare form of male breast cancer.


The contamination in the drinking water included chemicals from a nearby dry cleaner, solvents dumped by Marines, and millions of gallons of gasoline that leaked from a base depot.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

No Evidence Marine Corps Conducted Critical Water Test At Camp Lejeune (by William R. Levesque, Tampa Bay Times)

Author of Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Report Criticizes Military for Censoring Details (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

EPA Finally Admits that Chemical in Camp Lejeune Water Caused Cancer (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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