Camp Lejeune: Please Don't Drink the Water

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Once again Larry Scott of VA Watchdog Dot Org has provided us with a story that must be read to be believed. Who would've thought the degree of reality in the old expression... don't drink the water.

You Can't Make This Stuff up

The last years of Marine veteran Ian Colin MacPherson's life were spent fending off one puzzling ailment after another. Rashes. Headaches. Vertigo. Nausea. And finally, the abnormally aggressive prostate cancer that killed the Riverview man at age 46 in 2004.

MacPherson always figured he must have been poisoned. But by whom? His widow, Jody MacPherson, believed she found the culprit last year: MacPherson's beloved Marine Corps. "They killed him," she said.

Camp Lejeune, a sprawling Marine base on the North Carolina seaboard, is the site of what some scientists call the worst public drinking-water contamination in the nation's history. Its water wells were tainted with cancer-causing industrial compounds for 30 years, ending in 1987. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million people - including Marines and family living on base housing - drank, bathed and cooked using that fouled water.

Congress has dubbed ill Marines "poisoned patriots," and in 2008 lawmakers ordered the Marines to notify those who might have been exposed. So far, almost 10,000 affected Floridians have registered with the Marines to take part in a health study, the highest total for any state except North Carolina. About 1,500 claims have been filed against the government seeking $33.8-billion in damages. "This is worse than any Love Canal," said Jody MacPherson, 47, referring to the New York neighborhood that became notorious in the 1970s as a toxic waste site. Her husband was born on the base in 1957 and then served there as a Marine for a decade ending in 1985. Nobody ever told him he had been exposed to carcinogens, his wife said. She discovered news of the water contamination on the Internet three years after his death.

Among the chemicals detected in high concentrations at Camp Lejeune are a metal degreaser, trichloroethylene (TCE) and a degreaser and dry-cleaning agent called tetrachloroethylene (PCE). "It is certainly a huge contamination," said Dr. Richard Clapp, an epidemiologist at Boston University who studied the Woburn, Mass., water contamination made famous by the book and movie, A Civil Action.

No definitive and comprehensive epidemiology study has been conducted on Camp Lejeune veterans and their families to see if their rates of illness are significant, though two studies are expected to be completed in coming years.

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt