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Why does this matter?
It's been called one of the worst toxic contaminations in the country. It's also possibly one of the U.S. military's most shameful acts of deception and betrayal. Between 1957 and 1987, as many as one million Marines and their family members at Camp Lejeune drank, bathed in, and cooked with water contaminated by various volatile organic compounds--some at levels as high as 280 times what is considered safe under law. For years, the Marine Corps kept this secret, blocking many attempts to uncover the truth--even after the first news of water contamination broke in 1987.
Many Marines who ingested contaminated water at Camp Lejuene, the largest Marine base on the East Coast, have died or lost family members, especially children with extreme birth defects or leukemia--and many more still are sick and dying with rare cancers and other ailments believed to be linked to the water contamination. Civilian employees who worked on the base and people who live in the communities around the base near Jacksonville, NC, are also reporting a high incidence of cancers. And yet the plight of these victims and the lack of accountability by the Marine Corps are not well known.
Why is POGO involved?
POGO has been fighting a secrecy measure recently included in the defense budget. As originally proposed by the Dept. of the Navy, the extremely broad exemption to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) under the guise of protecting “Critical Infrastructure Information” from terrorists would allow exactly the kind of information relating to the Camp Lejeune water contamination to be withheld from the public (along with all kinds of other information that is not in the public interest or in the interest of national security to withhold).
The DoD has a responsibility to protect our national security interests, but that duty must be balanced with other public interests. Rep. Maloney’s amendment narrows the DoD’s ability to claim the exemption FOIA under the premise of protecting critical infrastructure and strikes the right balance between security and other public interests such as health and safety.
We cannot allow for more military cover-ups and must hold DoD accountable for all health hazards caused by our military throughout the U.S. and the world. Congress can start by guaranteeing Camp Lejeune veterans and their families’ health care, and by denying DoD the ability to keep their deadly mistakes secret.
The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten: Camp Lejeune Toxic Water
Camp Lejeune Registry, Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry website of the Center For Discease Control - Find Public Health Activities, Chemicals Involved, Water Modeling, Community Resources and much more.
Camp Lejeune Blog Posts
July 7, 2014
Following a wrong-minded Supreme Court decision affecting victims of toxic waste, the North Carolina legislature took steps to clarify laws that offer hope for Camp Lejeune water contamination victims and countless others.
Topics: Government Accountability
April 23, 2014
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.
Topics: Public Health and Science
April 22, 2014
On Monday, environmental activist Erin Brockovich appeared on MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow’s show to discuss a Supreme Court hearing, which could have devastating effects on the military families and civilians who were poisoned by contaminated drinking water at No
Topics: Public Health and Science
|Click here to see all of POGO's blog posts about Camp Lejeune.|
Other POGO Work on Camp Lejeune
Standing Up for Victims of Pollution
Kris Thomas, Camp Lejeune Male Breast Cancer Victim
Mike Partain: What Cancer Does
Jerry Ensminger Speaks at the Rally for Camp Lejeune
Erin Brockovich's Speech at Rally for Camp Lejeune Victims
Obama Signs Health Care Bill into Law for Camp Lejeune Victims
Other Resources and Readings
Report - 2014 Evaluation of mortality among marines and navy personnel exposed to contaminated drinking water at USMC base Camp Lejeune: a retrospective cohort study, Environmental Health.
Commentary - April 22, 2014, We must take care of Camp Lejeune’s betrayed, by Heather White and Angela Canterbury, The Hill; Congress Blog.
Article - April 4, 2014, 'A Trust Betrayed: The Untold Story of Camp Lejeune' by Mike Magner, by Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post.
Brief of Jerry Ensminger, The Estate of Christopher Townsend, Mike Partain, Kris Thomas, and the Estate of Rosanne Warren as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents, April 2014
Amicus Curiae Brief Supporting Petitioner, Department of Justice, Solicitor General Donal B. Verrilli, Jr., April 2014.
Supreme Court Case Docketed - September 18, 2013, CTS Corporation v. Waldburger, Oral Arguments scheduled for April 23, 2014.
Book - A Trust Betrayed, The Untold Story of Camp Lejeune and the Poisoning of Generations of Marines and their Families, by Mike Magner, March 11, 2014.
Article - March 1, 2014, Government straddles both sides in toxic water cases, by Richard Wolf, USA Today.
Article - December 11, 2013, CDC report shows danger at Camp Lejeune, The Virginian-Pilot.
Janey Ensminger Act signed by President Obama - August 30, 2012.
Doumentary Film - Semper Fi: Always Faithful, 2011. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger was a devoted Marine for nearly twenty-five years. As a drill instructor he lived and breathed the "Corps" and was responsible for indoctrinating thousands of new recruits with its motto Semper Fidelis or "Always Faithful". When Jerry's nine-year old daughter Janey died of a rare type of leukemia, his world collapsed. As a grief-stricken father, he struggled for years to make sense of what happened. His search for answers led to the shocking discovery of a Marine Corps cover-up of one of the largest water contamination incidents in U.S. history. Semper Fi: Always Faithful follows Jerry's mission to expose the Marine Corps and force them to live up to their motto to the thousands of soldiers and their families exposed to toxic chemicals. His fight reveals a grave injustice at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune and a looming environmental crisis at military sites across the country.
Congressional Hearing - Camp Lejeune: Contamination and Compensation, Looking Back, Moving Forward, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, Committee on Science and Technology, House of Representatives, 111th Congress, #111-108, September 16, 2010.
Image by Pam Rutter.