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Marine Who Lost Child From Contamination at Camp Lejeune will Appear in WashingtonTim King Salem-News.com
The culprits are the chemical agents TCE and PCE.
(SALEM, Ore.) - A retired U.S. Marine who lost his daughter to leukemia from drinking contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will appear in front of the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology next week in Washington D.C. to discuss the importance of maintaining a current database of information about the various risks brought about by chemical exposure.
Jerry Ensminger is one of thousands of former Marines, Marine family members and civilian base employees who were exposed to contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. More Marines and others were also affected at the now closed El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Southern California. The chemical agents that caused the problems at Camp Lejeune are TCE and PCE. The problems at El Toro are mainly related to TCE.
In each case, the knowledge about all these Marine Corps base-related illnesses has been murky at best, with a few groups like WaterSurvivors.com and MWSG37.com operated by former Marine Robert O'Dowd, working tirelessly to bring this sad saga about American's most elite fighting force into the light. Another site that Jerry Ensmiger is associated with is The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten.
A several years-long study of the impact from this contamination almost met its end last weekend when the Navy tried to side-step a payment of just over half a million dollars to the researchers. By Sunday, a compromise was met and the Navy met the financial obligation.
The problems at Lejeune are largely unknown by the people who served and worked there. The problems affect everyone from parents of stillborn infants, to the grandchildren of these men and women Marines. Last year President Bush agreed that the government would notify Marines about the related illnesses and possibilities of contamination. Agencies were given one year by the federal government to get the word out. The death of the study would have sank any possibility of the agencies meeting that Presidential ordered obligation to notify Marines.
The subcommittee Ensminger will appear before is looking at the integrated risk information system (IRIS). IRIS is a database established in the 1980's to keep information regarding the risks associated with specific chemicals, according to a subcommittee press release.
"They want me to come up there as a victim of some of these chemicals, as an example of why this is so important," Ensminger told The Daily News Tuesday.
Jerry Ensminger lost his daughter Janey in 1985 when she was 9-years old. Once he drew a connection between her death and the contamination on the Marine Corps base, his efforts have been relentless, supporters say. He told reporters that the chance to address the subcommittee is "another opportunity for me to get the message out."
According to records, people at Lejeune drank from a contaminated water system between the mid-1950s and 1987. The contaminants are linked to spills, old storage tanks located underground, and poor disposal practices of a now-closed dry cleaning facility located off base, but close enough to be a major contributor to the problems there.
Like El Toro and probably many other military bases, the problem chemicals were degreasing agents that were used for a variety of purposes. TCE, trichloroethylene, is the main culprit and the dry-cleaning solvent - perchloroethylene, or PCE, is the other.
For the toxocology of TCE and PCE, please refer to this article: Marine Death Camp: Camp Lejeune Trichlorethylene - the Culprit. To read about marijuana therapeutics, see several related articles in Salem-News.com
Ensminger believes that keeping an up-to-date database of chemicals and the associated exposure risks is crucial, but he says IRIS has not maintained the information as they should have.
It seems to give weight to the old saying that Marines are expendable. It is not just Marines however who are affected. Ensminger was quoted by The Daily News saying that, "Ultimately, what is suffering here is public health."
Indeed, the problems have affected thousands of people around the United States. Many, unlike this Marine, do not know the root of their own family medical problems. Jerry Ensminger means to make that a thing of the past.
Please look at our other articles on this subject:
Here is a link to our Marine Corps section: Salem-News.com Marine Corps articles
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Today, in addition to his role as a war correspondent in Afghanistan where he spent the winter of 2006/07, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators. Tim's coverage from Iraq that was set to begin in April has been delayed and may not take place until August, 2008. You can send Tim an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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