Report on Lejeune water shows "worst contamination in history" - WNCT

Report on Lejeune water shows "worst contamination in history"

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CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -

We're getting a closer look at how toxic chemicals infiltrated the drinking water at Camp Lejeune.

On Friday, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released a report that details information about the levels of contamination in the base's water system.

If you ask retired Marine Jerry Ensminger, he'll tell you it's the biggest military cover up in our nation's history.

We sat with him to talk about the new report.

"So many people have suffered because of the negligence that was down there during this time,"

It's something he's fought to prove since his daughter Janey died of leukemia, which he blames directly on the contamination.

"This is verification and vindication of what I've been trying to say for 16 years," he said, "Camp Lejeune and North Carolina now own the unenviable record for the worst contamination of a public drinking water system in the history of our county."

Last year,  9 On Your Side was the only station in the East in the Oval Office when President Obama signed a bill, finally offering health benefits to marines and their families that were on base from 1957 to 1987.

But the new study just released says the contamination may go back as far as 1948. That's nine years earlier.

The study reconstructed the contamination that was found in the water system.

It gave monthly average levels for each chemical.

The report showed several chemicals that were excessively over regulated levels. Many of them linked to causing cancer and other deadly disease.

For example, TCE levels at some point were at 783 parts per billion. The highest level allowed in drinking water is 5 ppb. That means the levels in the water on base for TCE alone were more than 150 time higher than legal level.

"Not to mention, we weren't just getting one of these we were getting a cocktail. A mixture of all of them," Ensminger added.

"The Marine Corps says there were no regulations pertaining to these contaminates. They didn't' have anything."

But he showed us an official order Camp Lejeune on how to handle the disposal of toxic waste. It also listed the consequences if it wasn't done right.

"One of the consequences was contamination of drinking water! " Ensminger explained, "Gee, that order was dated 27 June 1974."

He says this new study opens the door for more research and support to the nearly one million service members potentially affected.

In particular, he wants to see a cancer study done.

But, he says the one thing that may never surface, is accountability.

"The very highest echelons of leadership the people who hold the rest of the rank in file of the marine corps to the lofty standards of integrity they either can not or will not live up to their own standards."

A U.S. Senator and Congressman are calling for another hearing in the House of Representatives, addressing the new study.

Stay with 9 On Your side for the latest.

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