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Victims: Marines Failed To Safeguard Water Supply

By Allen G. Breed, Michael Biesecker and Martha Waggoner

A capped groundwater monitoring well stands on the former site of the Hadnot Point fuel farm at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. Gasoline from leaking underground tanks on the Marine Corps base contributed to what is considered one of the worst cases of drinking water contamination in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Allen Breed)

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) – A simple test could have alerted officials that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated, long before authorities determined that as many as a million Marines and their families were exposed to a witch’s brew of cancer-causing chemicals.

But no one responsible for the lab at the base can recall that the procedure – mandated by the Navy – was ever conducted.

The U.S. Marine Corps maintains that the carbon chloroform extract (CCE) test would not have uncovered the carcinogens that fouled the southeastern North Carolina base’s water system from at least the mid-1950s until wells were capped in the mid-1980s. But experts say even this “relatively primitive” test – required by Navy health directives as early as 1963 – would have told officials that something was terribly wrong beneath Lejeune’s sandy soil.

A just-released study from the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry cited a February 1985 level for trichloroethylene of 18,900 parts per billion in one Lejeune drinking water well – nearly 4,000 times today’s maximum allowed limit of 5 ppb. Given those kinds of numbers, environmental engineer Marco Kaltofen said even a testing method as inadequate as CCE should have raised some red flags with a “careful analyst.”

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Posted by FanningCommunications on Jun 1st, 2013 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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