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Marine Corps Busted Over Benzene Contamination at LejeuneTim King Salem-News.com
Marines altered findings of reports that showed extremely high levels of benzene in a base well.
(CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.) - We have been writing for years about the plight of sick and dying Marines who were stationed at the now-closed El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Southern California, and the active base, Camp Lejuene in North Carolina. In both cases, toxic water has caused a variety of diseases and illnesses among Marines, their families, and others who worked at the base as civilians.
The federal government has been doing its best to duck the issue. Early on, there was recognition of the problems resulting from Camp Lejeune's deadly toxic water contamination, but then a few months ago, the DoD put together a panel of scientists who claimed that all previous data on Lejeune was no longer valid.
Since that point, senators and aggressive Veterans Advocates like former Camp Lejeune Marine Jerry Ensminger and Camp Lejeune breast cancer Survivor Mike Partain, have kept the pressure on government officials up. Soon there was another turnaround, as information surfaced that the Marines had essentially, paid for more favorable reports.
In some cases they have been responsive, in others they haven't, and sometimes the legislation fails to address the real issues, or makes compromises in the wrong areas.
Today The Associated Press shocked the nation by revealing that, "An environmental contractor dramatically underreported the level of a cancer-causing chemical found in tap water at Camp Lejeune, then omitted it altogether as the Marine base prepared for a federal health review."
The AP cites how the Marine Corps was warned nearly a decade earlier about the dangerously high levels of benzene. This chemical is connected to massive leaks from base fuel tanks, according to recently disclosed studies.
In earlier years when the government was more amiable on the issue, the Navy and Marines admitted that there was a problem in the base water supply connected to PCE (perchloroethylene) which reportedly stemmed from an off-base dry cleaner. It was a small admission from the Marines, placed on the shoulders of the scapegoat dry cleaner.
This technically made the Marine Corps itself a victim, but not culpable. Dr. Phil Leveque with Salem-News.com who is a noted Pharmacologist and Forensic Toxicologist, says the dangers from Lejeune are far worse than anyone in the federal government will ever admit.
Man, how things turn around.
The truth as it was revealed today, is that Benzene has been killing these Marines, and the information was revealed through part of the broader, ongoing investigation of the contamination.
Water samples drawn in 1984, analyzed by scientists, showed benzene in a well near the base's Hadnot Point Fuel Farm. Levels of 380 parts per billion were detected, according to information in water tests.
The contractor summarized the 1984 sampling a year later, by stating that the benzene concentration "far exceeds" a safety limit imposed by federal regulators, at 5 parts per billion.
The AP says water contamination tests were still being conducted in 1991, when a different contractor again warned the U.S. Navy of the serious hazards posed by benzene in these levels.
Eight years later, the ASTDR (federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease), under the Department of Health and Human Services, arrived at Camp Lejeune to conduct an assessment of health risk.
At this point a third contractor, the Michael Baker Corp., released a draft report detailing the feasibility of resolving the serious problem on the base.
That report shows 1984's levels of 380 parts per billion in the well, changing dramatically, to 38 parts per billion. By the time the Michael Baker Corp. released its final report on the well in 1994, the reference to the benzene problem had been totally deleted.
A woman who spent ten years with the EPA as an enforcement officer, before she became an ecologist and environmental attorney, Kyla Bennett, told The AP that it is difficult to see the Baker Corp. documents as innocent mistakes.
"It is weird that it went from 380 to 38 and then it disappeared entirely," she added. "It does support the contention that they did do it deliberately."
Mike Partain, the 42-year old breast cancer survivor who lived at Camp Lejeune, says, "It is a shame that an institution founded on honor and integrity would resort to open deceit in order to protect their reputation at the cost of the health, safety and welfare of its service men, women and their families."
The AP also says a Marine Corps spokesman, Captain Brian Block, "took exception to characterizing the conflicting information in the reports as anything but inadvertent."
A captain? I'm sorry, but that is insulting all by itself. Why on earth would the Marines have a captain, which is an O-3 in the Corps, somebody with a total of two promotions under their belt, answering these questions? I suspect that the Marines just needed to have somebody inadvertently toss himself under the train. It pisses me off to hear of some young captain showing attitude over a question that involves the death and suffering of Marines who lived and died way before this character was ever thought of, let alone born. I wish I had been doing the interview, I really do.
He would have learned a new definition of "indignity" and not one he'd soon forget. This captain's just the latest stooge to toe the line for the dirty elements of the "Crotch", or "The Suck" as we called it in the post Vietnam era. But to get indignant because somebody is asking some questions, that really leaves a stain on the flag.
I'm really glad The AP included that part in their article, it is important. Marines are the most honorable people in the world, but among them are snakes.
I'm not saying that this Marine is one of them, but I do have to wonder. His comment to The AP, "It was probably just a mistake on the part of the contractor, but I can't tell you for certain why that happened" is either tragically ignorant, or a simple extension of the lies about Lejeune that are now seriously starting to haunt Marine Corps leadership.
There are simply too many ghosts for them to contain.
More tests at Camp lejeune conducted by a fourth contractor from June 2007 to August 2009, referenced in The AP article, showed levels in the well at Camp Lejeune at 3,490 parts per billion.
A spokesman for Baker Corp. reportedly declined to discuss the company's reports or why its employees might have revised the benzene levels, The AP said.
Salem-News.com has nine active writers who are former U.S. Marines. Most came to be part of our group because of our ongoing stories exposing the contamination of Camp Lejeune, and more closely El Toro, where our video cameras have shown viewers the old wreck of a base that the city of Irvine and Lennar Corporation planned to convert into luxury homes and a park.
The ground is so toxic at El Toro that it will adhere to the tires of your car if you park on top of it in the summer heat.
Marines write to Salem-News.com constantly after discovering our more than 50 stories on this subject. We are unrelenting and yes, emotional, because my friends have died and their children have perished from cancer contracted through the bases at El Toro and Camp Lejeune. There is not an ounce of fairness and it is a complicated story, though not that complicated.
In reports about El Toro we have revealed the terribly high levels of TCE (trichloroethylene) and PCE and Benzene, Radon 224 and Enriched Plutonium. We thought Benzene was perhaps the lesser of the problems. Perhaps this knowledge about Lejeune will partly refocus our take on El Toro as well.
There is far too much to share about this. I hope readers will go to The AP story next. Also, know that our archives are easily accessed and the link to them is below. Hold a good thought for the Marines today and know that even if the enemy sometimes wears the same uniform, today was a victory for all Marines, whether they know it or not.
 Feb-17-2010: MSNBC: Danger of Marines’ water removed from report
 Sep-25-2009: The Few, The Proud, The Damaged - Tim King Salem-News.com
 Aug-06-2009: El Toro Marines Exposed to Radiation - Robert O'Dowd Salem-News.com
Articles for February 16, 2010 | Articles for February 17, 2010 | Articles for February 18, 2010