Marine Corps hope to reach ex-Lejeune residents about tainted water

Navy has spent $10 million to spread word about water risk
By Sandra Jontz, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Monday, April 20, 2009

The U.S. Marine Corps is trying new methods to reach Marines, civilians and their families who lived at Camp Lejeune, N.C., over a 30-year period when the drinking water was contaminated.

The service recently circulated fliers to bases around the world to be posted in public places such as commissaries. For several years, the Marine Corps has had an outreach program to contact as many people as possible who might have been affected by the tainted water.

“We’ve started using different venues to reach different populations in different areas,” Corps spokeswoman Capt. Amy Malugani said.

The Marine Corps is trying to reach some 500,000 people who lived and worked on the base November 1957 through February 1987, years in which experts believed well water was contaminated. To date, nearly 130,000 are in the Notification Registry.

The Department of the Navy has spent $17.3 million on health studies and nearly $10 million on outreach campaigns.

There are roughly 1,400 pending legal claims seeking a total of $33 billion by people who lived on the Marine base, both military personnel and civilians.

In May 1982, scientists found the presence of degreaser tricholoroethylene, or TCE, and the dry-cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, in the drinking water at Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point housing areas. But wells supplying water to the housing complexes were not shut down until 1985.

The source of the contamination was traced to a commercial dry cleaner near the main gate and a vehicle maintenance and body shop on the base.


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