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A Few Good Men, Too Many Chemicals: Toxic Exposure of US Marines and Government Lies
Robert O'Dowd Salem-News.com
The year after TCE was found in agricultural wells on and off the base at El Toro, the entire set of water distribution engineering drawings were redrawn.
A Few Good Men, Too Many Chemicals documents the denial of responsibility and the cover-up by Marine Corps leadership.
(SOMERDALE, N.J.) - This explosive new book details the tragic story of U.S. Marines at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA, and Camp Lejeune, NC, who were exposed to organic solvents, benzene, and other carcinogens in the drinking water, and through dermal contact and inhalation while working with toxic chemicals without protective clothing and face masks.
Thousands of veterans and their families were once stationed at El Toro, now an "EPA Superfund site" and the premier Marine Corps jet fighter base until it closed in July 1999.
At Camp Lejeune, an active Marine Corps base and EPA Superfund site, the base wells were contaminated with organic solvents from 1953 to 1987 with an estimated one million people exposed to contaminated well water.
EPA Superfund sites are the nation's worst hazardous waste sites, requiring a long-term response to clean up hazardous material contamination. Since 1980, the EPA has maintained the list of such locations, and managed the cleanup.
The Navy and the Marine Corps initially refused to acknowledge any health effects from the Lejeune’s contaminated well water until Marine veterans and dependents enlisted the help of the North Carolina Congressional delegation and took the battle for VA health care to Congress.
Reported health problems in people of all ages from drinking water contaminated with TCE and/or PCE include:
An estimated one million people were exposed to contaminated well water at Camp Lejeune.
Legislation to provide health care for Camp Lejeune was passed in the 112th Congress. In September 2016, Lejeune veterans were eligible for presumptive VA disability compensation for 8 of the 15 health conditions that the VA agreed are linked to toxic chemicals in the base's water wells.
- Non-Hodgkins lymphoma
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Hodgkins disease
- Cervical cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver/biliary cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Neurological effects (delayed reaction times problems with short-term memory, visual perception, attention, and color vision)
There is no presumptive health care and disability for El Toro Marines, as of yet. El Toro veterans have to fight for health care and disability one veteran at a time.
A Few Good Men, Too Many Chemicals documents the denial of responsibility and the cover-up by Marine Corps leadership of environmental contamination from veterans, their dependents, and the public at El Toro.
The book reveals astonishing details:
At El Toro, 55-gallon drums of TCE waste were buried on the base to hide them from the Marine Corps Inspector General after their use was not authorized; the entire set of water distribution engineering drawings were redrawn in 1986, the year after TCE was found in agricultural wells on and off the base, and during the period when ten of Camp Lejeune’s wells were found contaminated with TCE and abandoned.
- The USMC has demonstrated no usage records on TCE and other organic solvents used on the base for decades;
- denial of ownership for 16 years of a major TCE plume spreading for miles into Orange County until a lawsuit forced the government to accept responsibility;
- loss of all of the original well construction drawings (permanent records) and over 40 years of water distribution engineering drawings;
- no records on the dates the base wells were abandoned;
- denial of the use of base wells by the Corps and Navy when a small quantity of softened municipal water was purchase in 1951, there was no evidence of contaminated well water or insufficient supply of water from the aquifer under the base, and the early purchase was inadequate to meet the demand for water without access to the wells;
- engineering drawings showing the base wells part of the water distribution system after the purchase of municipal water;
- the unexplained cut-off of pumping records when the base wells were clearly shown as not abandoned in an El Toro engineering drawings from 1975;
- a radiation contaminated hangar shuttered and sealed in 2016, years after the Navy reported the hangar free of radiation, and dioxin 2,3,7, 8 (TCDD), the deadly toxin in Agent Orange, listed on the California Department of Toxic Substances Control’s database as a probable contaminant of concern, and the VA’s confirmation of the death of an El Toro Marine from Agent Orange exposure who never served in Vietnam.
The Navy's mantra, "No need to worry" falls on deaf ears.
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