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National Research Council on TCE Kicks U.S. Marines to the CurbTim King Salem-News.com
It isn't the first time Marines have been thoroughly screwed by the government, but this might rate as one of our politician's most shameful moves.
(CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.) - The U.S. government is placing its boot straight up the backside of the nation's most esteemed warriors - U.S. Marines, by suddenly abandoning data that proved Uncle Sam polluted bases with toxic and deadly chlorine-based chemical degreasers.
Thousands of Marines who served at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina are sick or dead from contact with Trichloroethylene (TCE) and Perchloroethylene (PCE) that was mostly supplied by Dow Chemical, and found its way into the base's water supply.
A west coast base, the former El Toro Marine Air Station, is also in terrible shape with TCE contamination. Much progress remains to be made before it will be recognized as the problem it is, even though both Marine bases are designated as EPA Superfund sites.
Federal officials delivered a fancy report with all kinds of reasons that the luck of the Marines at Lejeune has run out. Let's just remember that the fact that it is written by people with extensive degrees, does not make it true. Like anything else in this life, all you have to do is follow the money trail, and it leads right back to the federal government's vast liability for its environmental foolishness.
The announcement from the National Research Council is reminiscent of something the Soviet Union might have done to its people.
Irresponsibility in this case is rampant. In spite of what any one of our tax paid federal scientists "sponsored" by the main players with something to protect like the Department of the Navy say, the tie between TCE, PCE and death and sickness is very clear.
Salem-News writer Dr. Phil Leveque is a retired physician and professor of pharmacology, and he still practices as a forensic toxicologist. He has testified as an expert witness more than 400 times in court in several U.S. states.
He had one of the first D.D.T. human poisoning cases and was the first to recognize 2-4 D, the weed killing poisoning in 1952.
Ironically, he testified in what he believes was the first TCE-death related court case in the U.S. in 1975. With Dr. Leveque's testimony, the attorneys for the family won a sizable victory and proved that Dow was responsible for killing a janitor who used TCE to clean gum stains off supermarket floors, and died of liver failure after inhaling TCE for six weeks.
In Dr. Leveque's article Marine Death Camp: Camp Lejeune Trichlorethylene - the Culprit, he explains that:
"A standard handbook of Toxic Chemicals by Sittig in 1981 gives this about Trichlorethylene based on U.S. government publications: (1) "it causes irritation to eyes, nose & throat. (It smells sweet, has a burning taste and causes dermatitis) (2) It depresses the central nervous (brain and nerves) (3) it causes cancer of the liver with metastes to the lungs and probably all over the body (4) it attacks the heart, liver, kidneys, CNS, (brain) and skin and (infants and fetuses) are very susceptible to severe harm by these chemicals."
The National Research Council report states, "Studies specifically on the Camp Lejeune population have addressed only reproductive health outcomes, but the limited quality of exposure information restricts their value. The inability to study exposure and health outcomes accurately is a serious limitation in any future research."
They're sorely mistaken. The data exists but the information that would lead to an opposing conclusion is ignored.
I guess I'm going to have to go to North Carolina and videotape the thousands of baby graves located all over the area near Camp Lejeune.
I'm told infants were going into the ground in the late 1960's so fast that the Marines started refusing to allow parents to bury their stillborn babies if they wanted to. No way the Corps, said, cremation only. I have contact with not one but several of these very parents.
Dr. Leveque said, "It is not surprising to me that many infants were stillborn or died soon at Camp Lejeune over the years and yet the people were kept in the dark. The chemical has probably destroyed their brains and they cannot survive outside the uterus."
The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army killed the Marines, and the government's lack of environmental stewardship and devilish tie to Dow Chemical's toxic product that lacked proper warnings, killed their young.
While clearly caving to political and monetary pressures, the government issued the news release that spells the end for any hope Marines held out for.
The scientists with the the National Research Council admit that "evidence exists that people who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune Marine Base in North Carolina between the 1950s and 1985 were exposed to the industrial solvents tricholorethylene (TCE) or perchloroethylene (PCE) in their water supply."
The report however states that, "...strong scientific evidence is not available to determine whether health problems among those exposed are due to the contaminants."
Yes it is. They are not being honest. The military already has the Ferris Doctrine which blocks former members of the military from suing the government, but that's not enough. Now the government is gouging and throwing away the established credibility tying TCE and PCE to the horrific illnesses that they cause such as lower intestinal disorders, several types of cancer and many other problems. The contamination is also heredity.
Now the feds are in the business of sheltering the company, Dow, that is responsible for the miserable deaths of more than we will ever know.
Marine Point Man on TCE
Ask former Marine Jerry Ensminger what he thinks of all of this. His little girl died from cancer and all the while as he later learned, the government knew exactly what happened.
Jerry’s daughter Janey was conceived while the family lived at one of the Lejeune base family housing units that were affected by trichloroethylene (TCE) contaminated drinking water. Everything was OK when Janey was born, but then she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia when she was six.
Salem-News writer Robert O'Dowd quoted Jerry Ensminger in a previous story, Veterans Use Internet to Wage Battle, saying he "didn’t cry once" in front of his daughter through all her treatments, until her death at age 9 on Sept. 24th 1985, at Duke Children’s Hospital and Health Center. But telling Janey’s story now makes him sob as if her death happened yesterday. Jerry operates the Website The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten.
Records indicate that Marines and their dependents as well as civilian workers at Lejeune, drank from a contaminated water system between the mid-1950s and 1987. These deadly contaminants stem from 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, so the government said.
Ensminger became a one man force in his effort to bring awareness to the problems Marines face from their time at Lejeune, then others joined the fight and while their progress at Lejeune has been measurable, even leading to notification of Marines once stationed there, it all takes a step backward thanks to the new direction established by the National Research Council.
In fact it is more like a U-turn.
Why? That's simple. Because they don't want the feds or Dow to be responsible for the damage they have caused those of us who serve in the Corps and were affected by TCE. Dow is stuffed so far up the government's rear that the biggest enema in history probably wouldn't dislodge their grip on American politics, no matter how bad they are.
I always remind people not to bag 'across the board' on politicians; it is essential that we leave the door open to the possibility that at least some have good aim and a true moral compass as well as the necessary amount of influence to bring change to problems like these.
The mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seriously wilted during the Bush years and everything was different than it had been under Clinton, to say the least. Without a doubt, much hope for Marines hinged on how the people under President Obama would treat all of this. Well, I guess we know now.
The report offers the excuse that "further research will unlikely provide definitive information on whether exposure resulted in adverse health effects in most cases."
"Even with scientific advances, the complex nature of the Camp Lejeune contamination and the limited data on the concentrations in water supplies allow for only crude estimates of exposure," said David Savitz, chair of the committee that wrote the report and professor in the department of community and preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City.
"Therefore, the committee could not determine reliably whether diseases and disorders experienced by former residents and workers at Camp Lejeune are associated with their exposure to the contaminated water supply."
Again, there is plenty of definitive proof that the careless use of TCE has ruined countless numbers of lives.
The now-closed El Toro air base in Southern California, another base that is heavily contaminated with TCE.
Developers there want to build a housing community and park on the ground that is so toxic that it literally dissolves at surface level. This is where I was stationed as a Marine, right in the worst area.
Taking a STAND on the Issue
A press conference was held today in North Carolina by four of the fourteen people responsible for the decision to suddenly turn away from research tying the toxic contamination of Lejeune to the endless list of illnesses affecting Marines and their families.
One person asking questions at that press event was Terry Dyer, whose father was a principal at a Camp Lejeune school.
As multiple health problems overcame their family, she watched him die of a heart attack at the age of 45, when she was 16. A cancer survivor today, she operates THE STAND, a highly effective Website like Ensminger's, that takes TCE contamination of Marines head on, always raising the bar when it comes to education and TCE.
Terry says these people issuing a decision that affects so many Marines, didn't seem to really know the facts.
"They don't think TCE was a factor and that there isn't enough evidence to prove that TCE caused it. I noticed that when the hard questions began, they began going a little soft on us."
She says Jerry Ensminger asked whether any of the board members were compromised, and inquired as to the integrity of the committee. Most Americans know that a public group can not adequately police itself, and independent groups are called in to avoid a conflict of interest.
It seems however that the National Research Council could almost be viewed as an exercise in conflicting interests. The Department of the Navy itself is top dog in this game, and any honesty and accountability about TCE stands to cost the Navy a pretty penny.
Dyer says members of the board admitted to her that, "They aren't saying people aren't sick" and then the head of the committee stated that "there still is a moral obligation by the Marine Corps and there could be legal ramifications."
But then she says tonight on the 6:00 news, "All you heard was about how the NSA stated that the TCE isn't part of the problem."
"The press ignored what we were saying."
She says the board seemed to listen to the information that was presented. After all of the years and thousands of hours Dyer has invested in her fight to help people affected by Camp Lejeune's toxic TCE waste, I can only imagine how hard it has to be to encapsulate feelings and information about such a broad subject into a few concise words.
Dyer's site, like Salem-News.com, receives hundreds of email contacts from people affected by TCE at Lejeune. We are terribly aware of the problems and they are absolutely tied to the Marine base. There is no question, and there hasn't been one until this controversial decision by the NRC.
Dyer says she addressed them saying, "I've got bladder cancer, and you're telling me this isn't a big deal?"
"I'd like an answer: What we drank and bathed in, when measured in the parts to billion, could you let your family drink that?"
She says each of them, right down the line, said they would not.
But that doesn't seem to make any difference, not at this moment at least. I suggest that the people toying with the lives and welfare of Marines, playing GOD for that matter, reconsider their decision and announce it publicly. Otherwise your names will always be associated with this most negative moment in American history.
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
These are the people on the Committee on Contaminated Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune:
David Savitz* (CHAIR)
Caroline L. Baier-Anderson
James V. Bruckner
Carole A. Kimmel
Bruce P. Lanphear
John R. Nuckols
Andrew F. Olshan
Janice W. Yager
RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF
Also see these 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. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
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