Marine Testifies At Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Hearing

As we’ve long reported, many scientists have called the drinking <"">water contamination at Camp Lejeune the worst in the nation’s history. From the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s, an estimated 1 million people were exposed to water that was poisoned by benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and vinyl chloride, which the Department of the Navy eventually blamed on an off-base dry cleaner.

We also recently wrote that lawsuits involving Camp Lejeune toxic water were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) and transferred to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia. These lawsuits allege that the U.S. government knowingly exposed hundreds of thousands of Marines, sailors, their family members, and civilian employees to highly contaminated drinking water, and, at the same time, actively disseminated disinformation to victims in an effort to minimize the significance of the exposure.

A proposed new law meant to help some, not all, alleged victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and would allow veterans and family members whose health was endangered by Camp Lejeune’s tainted water to receive health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is the second time this legislation was introduced in the House.

If it becomes law, the bill would create a presumptive link between contaminated drinking water and certain diseases that have plagued veterans and their families who lived at Camp Lejeune the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s. The bill, called the Janey Ensminger Act in honor of a 9-year-old girl who died of childhood leukemia believed to have been caused by the Camp Lejeune water, never made it out of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs with its first introduction. The reintroduced bill—the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2011—was introduced in February and is pending in the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

While well intentioned and certainly a boon to Camp Lejeune’s poisoned water many, the legislation does not provide for civilians who worked at the base during the period of contamination.

Now, said ENC Today, Former Camp Lejeune Marine Jerry Ensminger—Janey’s father—was on Capitol Hill Tuesday advocating for Lejeune troops and their families. Two expert panels discussed bills concerning a variety of other issues, but most speakers also spoke about the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act, including Committee co-chairman and bill sponsor Senator Richard Burr (Republican-North Carolina), who said, “Studies are underway to gauge how much of the dangerous chemicals they were exposed to and how it impacted their health…. But, those who were put at risk should not have to wait for these studies before VA will provide them with care. We should make sure they can get the treatment they need now, to combat any adverse effects from these toxins,” quoted ENC Today

Ensminger discussed his story and the death of his daughter in 1985. Janey’s leukemia is believed to have been the result of tainted Camp Lejeune water, said ENC Today. “Senator Burr’s bill, S-277 is a step in the right direction in rectifying this tragic situation…. Some of you may not know this, but Camp Lejeune is the largest documented domestic DoD environmental contamination incident on record,” Ensminger said. “I would ask anybody who recommends we be turned back over to the DoD, the very people who were responsible for poisoning us, and to this very day they’re denying they did anything wrong, how would that work out? The DoD still hasn’t stepped up to the plate on this issue…. There’s been many obfuscations, half-truths, and total lies,” he added, quoted ENC Today.

The committee will reconvene June 29.

This entry was posted in Camp Lejeune Toxic Water, Health Concerns. Bookmark the permalink.

© 2005-2020 Parker Waichman LLP ®. All Rights Reserved.