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Camp Lejeune Supporters Tell Supreme Court to Stand by Toxic Pollution Victims

Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich, environmental activist

Sometimes, the best way to get attention is also the most basic: crowds, picket signs and chants. The Project On Government Oversight rarely organizes rallies—so you can know that when we do, it’s because something particularly outrageous is happening, and it’s imperative that more people know about it.

This morning, POGO was joined by like-minded supporters, including the Environmental Working Group, famed environmental activist Erin Brockovich and Ret. Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger to demand justice for the victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Marines, their families and civilians who lived and worked at the North Carolina military base were unwittingly exposed to toxic, disease-causing chemicals in their water.  All the while, the government tried to cover up the pollution, rather than fix it.

The federal government has a commitment to take care of those it harmed. As one of the signs at the rally pointed out, the Marine Corps motto Semper Fi, which means always faithful, is a two-way street. A case argued today at the U.S. Supreme Court, CTS Corporation vs. Waldburger, however, could set a precedent that would keep Lejeune victims from making claims under federal law. Alarmingly, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has sided with the corporate polluter in favor of statute of limitations on how long victims have to file a claim.

Dozens of activists gathered at Upper Senate Park to hear remarks from Brockovich, and three men who lived at Camp Lejeune—Ensminger, Mike Partain and Kris Thomas. Some at the rally carried pictures of lost loved ones or signs recounting their own stories of sickness. 

Lejeune Signs

“I absolutely believe it is the responsibility of every citizen and every government to uphold the very values that they teach the service members and their families,” Brockovich said. “That is honor, that is integrity, that’s the value of their family…We've had service men and women come home from bullets to chemical poisoning to having to bury their children."

Ensminger’s daughter, Janey, was born on base and passed away from childhood leukemia when she was 9-years-old.

Jerry Ensminger

Jerry Ensminger, Marine Corps Master Sgt., Retired

“I hope the Supreme Court Justices sees this for what this is. It is a complete flip-flop from what the Department of Justice is supposed to be doing,” Ensminger said. “They’re supposed to be supporting and upholding the laws that are passed by our Congress and here they’re joining forces with a known polluter to cheat us out of our rights.”

After rallying in front of the Capitol, supporters marched to the Supreme Court. A decision is expected in a few months. Hopefully the Justices will give Camp Lejeune victims the justice they deserve. You can help by telling President Obama he must stand by Camp Lejeune victims by signing our petition here.

Images by Pam Rutter.

By: Avery Kleinman
Beth Daley Impact Fellow, POGO

Avery Kleinman Avery Kleinman is the Beth Daley Impact Fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Public Health and Science

Related Content: Camp Lejeune Contamination Cover-up

Authors: Avery Kleinman

Submitted by og7779311 at: July 30, 2014
I'm an ex-Marine that was stationed at camp lejeune in 1985-86.Red Cross would not accept my blood since I left there.I'm 51 yrs.old now and have scleroderma which is a rare disease.It has made me old before my time.Had it for two years now.
Submitted by moondaughter at: July 12, 2014
I was active duty at Camp LeJeune during the contamination period. I have since developed the following conditions: anemia, fibroids, hyperactive thyroid, osteoporosis and Type 2 Diabetes. NONE of my direct blood relatives (siblings, parents, grandparents) have or have had any of these conditions. The only healthcare I have is through the VA, and all they are doing is helping me "manage" the conditions.
Submitted by Caryn at: May 26, 2014
My husband died four weeks ago as a result of the Camp Lejeune water contamination. He was a Hospital Corpsman stationed at the base with the Marines from 1985-1988. In 1991 he developed Leukemia and battled for 23 years with all of the after-effects of the treatments and bone marrow transplant. I watched a strong healthy man's body slowly deteriorate until it finally failed and succumbed to the multiple health problems. My husband would still be alive today and I would have the love of my life by my side if it wasn't for the blatant neglect of the Marine Corp and their cover-up. Washington and the Marine Corp need to own up and compensate families who have lost loved ones as a result of this.
Submitted by kimmie68 at: May 24, 2014
It is important for a branch of the United States Government to stand up for the Veterans/Military and family of our service men and women. The congress, senate and at this point in time the VA is doing a piss poor job. All eyes are on you, the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, do the right thing and help the people from Camp Lejeune. Thank you kimmie68
Submitted by Sparkie at: May 16, 2014
I lived on Camp Lejeune for two years and I have had cancers.I was there from 1981 to 1983.Please help me out.No attorney will help me.
Submitted by db13131 at: May 15, 2014
I was stationed on Camp Lejeune for about a total of 8.5 years from 1977 - 1994. Now I have leukemia, I gave the Corps my youth now I won't have any golden years Semper Fi...
Submitted by Anonymous at: April 28, 2014
I care about the law. Polluters are not above the law.
Submitted by Cancer Marine at: April 23, 2014
As stated in March I came down with bladder cancer in 2006, and we are still fighting. Was in Camp Lejeune 1969 to 1971 so we are able to get help from the VA, but having to stop working doesn't pay the bills. We need to have help here also. Today maybe our goverment will be as faithful as we were in 69 thru 71.

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