U.S. Water News Online
RALEIGH, N.C. -- A Vermont senator's call for expanded
study into contaminated water at Camp Lejeune could help thousands of
people left out of earlier examinations, former base residents said.
In letters to the secretaries of Health and Human Services and the
Navy, Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., said that all Marines and their
families who lived in base housing between 1968 and 1985 should be
notified of the potential problems.
Jeffords sent the letters as the ranking member of the Senate
Environment and Public Works Committee, said spokesman Erik Smulson.
The letters were written in response to attempts over the years by
defense agencies to get broader exemptions from environmental laws,
Marine engineers discovered in 1980 that drinking water at
Lejeune, the largest Marine base on the East Coast, was highly
contaminated with solvents and other organic compounds and
pollutants. The contaminated wells at the base were not closed until
Jeffords said as many as 200,000 people who lived in base housing
could have been affected and that congressional hearings on the issue
There was no immediate comment from Marine Corps headquarters.
Spokesmen for North Carolina's senators said they maintain contact
on the issue with retired Marines and families who formerly lived on
Brian Nick, a spokesman for Sen. Elizabeth Dole, said the
Republican believes that expanding the study to include all former
Lejeune residents might delay ``determining the effects of the
contaminants on human health.''
The 9-year-old daughter of Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine
master sergeant died of cancer after living on base. Ensminger, of
Richlands, said he has been contacted by an investigator for the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.
``My daughter's dead,'' Ensminger said. ``I have a claim
submitted. No amount of money is going to bring Janey back right now,
but there are people out there who have children who have been harmed
by this and need medical care and adults who need help.''
Wilmington resident Terry Dwyer, 47, lived with her family in base
housing for 15 years before her then-45-year-old father &endash; a
Marine school principal &endash; died of a heart attack in 1973.
Dwyer, who has suffered for years from muscle pain and unexplained
illnesses, organized a survivors group that is pressing for a
hearing. She said she has visited the state's U.S. senators and is
working with them to organize a telephone conference call to discuss
Dwyer said people exposed to the contaminated water want testing
to determine if they have health problems, health care for their
problems and compensation.
``There were thousands of children and adults living out there who
are sick and dying today,'' she said. ``The Marine Corps knew about
this ... They found out about it in 1980 and they didn't cap the
wells until 1985.''
``They're waiting for us to die so that we will be quiet. We're
not going to be quiet.''
On the Net: Terry Dwyers' group:
to the U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.