Veteranclaims’s Blog

February 18, 2010

Amount Cancer-causing Chemical Omitted from Camp Lejeune Tap Water Report

Full Article at: Report on Marines’ water omitted cancer chemical
By KEVIN MAURER, Associated Press Writer Kevin Maurer, Associated Press Writer – Wed Feb 17, 3:39 pm ET

“WILMINGTON, N.C. – 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, an Associated Press review has found.

The Marine Corps had been warned nearly a decade earlier about the dangerously high levels of benzene, which was traced to massive leaks from fuel tanks at the base on the North Carolina coast, according to recently disclosed studies.

For years, Marines who served at Camp Lejeune have blamed their families’ cancers and other ailments on tap water tainted by dry cleaning solvents, and many accuse the military of covering it up. The benzene was discovered as part of a broader, ongoing probe into that contamination.

When water was sampled in July 1984, scientists found benzene in a well near the base’s Hadnot Point Fuel Farm at levels of 380 parts per billion, according to a water tests done by a contractor. A year later, in a report summarizing the 1984 sampling, the same contractor pointed out the benzene concentration “far exceeds” the safety limit set by federal regulators at 5 parts per billion.

The Marines were still studying the water contamination in 1991 when another contractor again warned the Navy of the health hazards posed by such levels of benzene.

By 1992, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, showed up at the base to begin a health risk assessment. That’s when a third contractor, the Michael Baker Corp., released a draft report on the feasibility of fixing the overall problem.

In it, the 1984 level on the well of 380 parts per billion had changed to 38 parts per billion. The company’s final report on the well, issued in 1994, made no mention of the benzene.

Not only hasn’t the benzene disappeared from the now-closed wells, it’s gotten much worse over time. One sample from a series of tests conducted from June 2007 to August 2009 registered 3,490 parts per billion, according to a report from a fourth contractor.”

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