Died at the age of 9
The Marine Corps has repeatedly argued federal law didn’t regulate the cancer-causing pollutants that fouled the drinking water at Camp Lejeune until long after the contamination was discovered.
But the Corps’ own regulations, starting in 1963, required water testing at the North Carolina base and other Marine bases using a method that some say could have provided a warning about tainted water, according to documents and interviews…
The Marine Corps’ regulations mandated such testing annually, or every two years if water quality was “stable.”
But no record of CCE testing at Camp Lejeune can be found in the thousands of pages of documents detailing what some believe to be the worst drinking-water contamination in U.S. history…
To critics of the Marine Corps, the test was a lost opportunity to catch a public health disaster in its early years. Today, more than 185,000 people who drank, cooked and bathed in the polluted water from 1953 to 1987 have signed up for a health registry…
“They created these rules to protect their people,” said former Marine drill instructor Jerry Ensminger, who served at Lejeune. His 9-year-old daughter, Janey, conceived at the base, died of leukemia in 1985. “They didn’t have the discretion to ignore them.”
The Janey Ensminger Act, which provides health care to veterans and family exposed to Lejeune’s polluted water, was signed into law by President Barack Obama last year in the Oval Office as Ensminger looked on. Camp Lejeune again grabbed the political spotlight last week as Chuck Hagel, Obama’s nominee as defense secretary, said during his Senate confirmation hearing he was committed to getting answers about the polluted water at Lejeune.
Chemical contamination in drinking water at Camp Lejeune came from numerous sources, scientists say. They include a dry cleaner adjacent to the base and industrial solvents discarded by Marine personnel.
One of the worst sources of pollution was a fuel depot on base that may have leaked more than a million gallons of gasoline since the base opened in the 1940s, records show.
That our vaunted military avoided their own regulations comes as no surprise to anyone living near an old American military base.
There is a small civilian community next to the old bombing practice range at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico with a truly unique problem. Anyone who leaves the community or wishes to switch over to bottled pure water must do so via an authorized withdrawal regimen.
There were so many practice bombs dropped near their community going back in time to World War 2 that an underground plume of nitroglycerin has infiltrated their water supply for decades. If anyone stops drinking the water cold turkey they run the risk of dying from nitro withdrawal.
No one tested their water until someone did a study on their unique heart problems a few years ago. For decades, our military ignored responsibility in the way Congress has more recently adopted.