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Jun-04-2008 22:59printcomments

Marine Who Lost Child From Contamination at Camp Lejeune will Appear in Washington

The culprits are the chemical agents TCE and PCE.

Salem-News.com
Salem-News.com

(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:

Marine Death Camp: Camp Lejeune Trichlorethylene - the Culprit

El Toro Marines Should be Aware of Possible Contaminant Based Health Hazards

Federal Agency Money Bickering Could Spell Doom for Sick Marines

Here is a link to our Marine Corps section: Salem-News.com Marine Corps articles

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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: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Van December 14, 2008 9:36 am (Pacific time)

I have been researching toxics on our military bases for a number of years. In 1987 Congress held hearings on TCE and our military bases. In 1978 the DoD says they found they had a problem with contaminants worldwide. Actually they knew before that. The different factions of our military just didn't get with the program. Some discovered it early by implementing programs. The Navy got a late start. They knew in 1978 they absolutely had problems and TCE was the number one contaminant of concern. By the early 80's the DoD wasn't that concerned about the TCE levels. A level of 270ppb seem to be the amount set before anything would be done. That changed in about 85 or 86 to about 50ppb. By 1987 the official amount was set at 5ppb in water. TCE is the number one problem worldwide for the DoD. The highest amount I believe that I have found is about 1,000,000ppb in drinking water at Andersen AFB Guam. The people and military personnel on this island were exposed to the TCE for years. It was so bad on Guam they started a massive cleanup, by way of dilution, of the drinking water. This helped but not much. It was about 1995 before the technology was developed and installed on Guam to get the levels down to accepted EPA standards. The tech. was developed at McClelland AFB in the late 80's. Guam was essentially their first target because of the amounts in the drinking water. Our Airforce and airstations were and are the worst offenders. But most of our military bases use TCE in many facets of military operations. When I was in the navy in 65 to 68 TCE and other contaminants were disposed of by dumping or burning. There are places all over that TCE is still migrating toward aquifers. I don't believe the public has a full grasp as to just how much our military contaminates the environment around them. There is one thing for sure. They DoD knew about the problem but did the ole two step. Mike Synar was very prophetic when he asked the military if they were going to take care of this or wait until the public finds out and all heck breaks out. Well the all heck is breaking out and the DoD still hasn't come clean. I think that all military personnel and their families need to network and get to the truth about all the contamination. On Guam the truth is being withheld. But people in the states have an advantage, the EPA, Congress and GAO. I believe the ATSDR is pretty much a bunch of liars and is running inference for the DoD.


Carol June 7, 2008 7:44 pm (Pacific time)

Candy, I couldn't have said it better. There ARE thousands of us. We ask, when will our voices be heard by Congress? Male and female victims should have their voices heard! With so many people impacted by Camp Lejeune's contamination, it seems strange that so few male victims and no female victims have been allowed to testify before Congress.


CANDY June 7, 2008 5:02 am (Pacific time)

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY THE CONTAMINATED WATER AT CAMP LEJEUNE. THERE HAVE BEEN MORE THAN 1 CHILD WHO HAS DIED OF LEUKEMIA, THERE ARE HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS OF "JANEYS'". AS TRAGIC AS JANEYS DEATH WAS, JERRY HAS TO REALIZE THAT HE IS NOT THE ONLY ONE OUT THERE WHO HAS LOST A CHILD. I LOST A HUSBAND AND A DAUGHTER. I THINK IT IS TIME THAT SOME "MOTHERS" TESTIFY BEFORE CONGRESS TO TELL THEIR STORIES. "EVERY" STORY IS IMPORTANT. MOTHERS WHO HAVE LOST CHILDREN, MOTHERS WHO ARE CARETAKERS, AND MOTHERS, WHO ALONG WITH THEIR ENTIRE FAMILIES ARE SICK. THEIR VOICES SHOULD BE HEARD.


Wally June 5, 2008 6:51 am (Pacific time)

Paging John Murtha: Haditha Marine Lt. Andrew Grayson found not guilty on all counts. See if you can find the story on the NYTimes or any other MSM outlet that splashed the original accusations all over their front pages. You’ll need a magnifying glass.

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