Senate Committee Releases 8,000 Documents Relating to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Having grown tired of the military’s stonewalling, a U.S. senator this week released thousands of documents pertaining to the decades-long water contamination at a key Marine Corps base.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, published more than 8,000 Department of Defense documents related to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
From the 1950s to the mid-1980s the water supply at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with chemicals from an off-base dry-cleaning company and trichloroethylene (TCE), which was used to clean military equipment. Even though Marine Corps commanders issued an order in 1974 to safely dispose of solvents, dangerous chemicals were still dumped near water wells for years.
Hundreds of thousands of military personnel and their family members may have been exposed. Leahy said it was time to find out how serious the problem is and get it resolved.
“The Marines and other Americans who have been touched by this environmental disaster deserve nothing but complete candor from their government,” Leahy said from the Senate floor. “I say to those Marines, we will find out what happened.”
The U.S. Navy had repeatedly delayed releasing records pertaining to Camp Lejeune’s underground wells. But once Leahy’s committee formally requested the documents, the service was obliged to turn them over.
Those who developed health problems from exposure to the contamination may get assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Legislation is now moving through the Senate that would authorize the VA to provide medical health care to people suffering from long-term effects of drinking contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
If the bill is passed, up to 750,000 people who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1987, will be eligible for care if they can prove, based on “conclusive evidence,” that they have a disease or disability caused by drinking carcinogenic water.
According to the Navy Times, “Diseases presumed to have a connection to the contaminated water are: Esophageal, lung, breast, bladder or kidney cancer; leukemia; multiple myeloma; myelodysplasic syndromes; renal toxicity; hepatic steatosis; female infertility; miscarriage; scleroderma; neuorobehavorial effects; and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Senator Leahy Publishes Secret Camp Lejeune Documents (by Dana Liebelson, Project on Government Oversight)
Lejeune Health Care Bill Is Unstuck In Senate (by Rick Maze, Navy Times)
Camp Lejeune Documents (Senate Judiciary Committee)
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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