A special thanks goes out to Major Tom Townsend (Ret.) for writing such wonderful and eloquent words for everyone's use!
This petition is for victims only . Another petition will be added to the site within the next week or so for family and friends. Please send a copy of this to your state politicians. The information in this petition is factual to the best of our knowledge. Should you have concerns, please contact us.
A PETITION FOR THE REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES
I. Submitted to: The Honorable Members of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives
II. Submitted by: The Former Members of the Naval Service and Their Dependents Who Were Exposed to Toxic Chemical Contamination from a Government Operated Public Water Supply System and Have Endured Wrongful Deaths and Multiple Adverse Physical Effects Since 1968 Without Relief by the United States Government
III. The Nature of the Grievances:
a. The refusal of the Department of the Navy and Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps to publicly accept responsibility for causing contamination of the groundwater underlying Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune (MCB, CLNC), Onslow County, North Carolina.
b. The refusal of the Department of the Navy and Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps to publicly accept responsibility for the negligent operation and oversight of multiple community water systems at Camp Lejeune and knowing by 1980 that the groundwater supply was contaminated with volatile organic compounds. Continued operation of a known contaminated water system is a violation of the secondary drinking water standards of the United States.
c. The refusal of the Department of the Navy and Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps to accept fiscal liability for the wrongful deaths and demonstrated adverse physical effects suffered by many of those exposed even after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed the CLNC site on the National Priorities List (NPL) and designated the Department of the Navy as the Potential Responsible Party (PRP) in October, 1989.
d. The refusal of the Department of the Navy's Office of Judge Advocate General and the U.S. Department of Justice to take action to resolve the hundreds of Federal Tort Claim Act filings submitted since 2000 on behalf of those families whose members have endured wrongful deaths and lingering adverse health effects both physical and mental.
e. The refusal of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, and Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps to notify individually the 100,000-300,000 former Marines, Sailors, and Civil Service employees that served at CLNC between 1968-1985 that they had been exposed to massive toxic levels of a multitude of contaminants in MCB's water distribution system(s).
f. The refusal of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, and Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps to advise all former service personnel stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1968-1985 of the names of the contaminants identified/confirmed to exist in the water supply, the quantitated maximum levels of these contaminants, the possible short/long term physical effects after exposure and guidance on receiving medical assistance and possible disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Congress is well aware that members of the Armed Forces while serving on Active Duty are prohibited from filing tort claims for damages incurred as a result to their duties by Feres v. United States (1950).
g. The refusal of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, and Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps to notify individually the 200,000-300,000 military dependents: wives and dependent siblings that lived at MCB, CLNC between 1968-1985 of the names of the contaminants in MCB's water distribution system(s). Many remain unaware of their exposure to this day.
h. The refusal of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, and Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps to advise all military dependents, wives, and dependent children, and Civil Service employees living or employed at CLNC between 1968-1985 of the names of the contaminants identified/confirmed to exist in the water supply, the quantitated maximum levels of these contaminants, and the possible short/long term physical effects after exposure.
It would be gracious of the Federal Government to assist those individuals who have been adversely affected and unknowing of their exposure by waiving any existing statutes of limitation and provide any administrative assistance needed to complete and submit a competent/valid claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act. This recommendation may partially atone for the fact that majority of petitioners were unknowing of their exposure, unaware of the consequences, and were deliberately kept uninformed of that status for up to 32 years.
i. The calculated refusal of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, and Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps to publicly acknowledge the contamination problems at MCB CLNC until 1985 and only then to on base residents and the adjacent civilian community.
j. It was not until 1999 that the exposed population of the 1968-1985 eras, who had left long before that date, became aware, in small part, to the contamination problems and that awareness is due solely to the in utero health survey cited below.
In 1989, only following the designation of MCB CLNC as a listed contaminated site on the NPL, did the Marine Corps publish the required public notices as required by CERCLA/SARA and other Superfund laws and then only in the local geographical area. If you did not live at MCB CLNC at that time you were unaware of the contamination issues.
The deliberate and calculated decision on the part of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, and Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps not to release this information in a timely manner to those of us at risk was a manifestly unethical and immoral action and even more despicable because the water system operators knew for several years, 1980-1985, that the water supply was highly contaminated, failed to take immediate remedial action, and needlessly placed thousands more service men and their families at risk.
k. The Congress needs to realize concerning the non-notifications cited that there are three cohorts involved: (1) in utero children conceived and born at the U.S. Naval Hospital CLNC (1968-1985) and also those who were born at Onslow Memorial Hospital as a result of a lack of space at the Naval Hospital, (2) active duty Marines, Sailors, and Civil Service employees, (3) dependent (civilian) family members: wives and dependent siblings.
The only group officially/formally notified re: contamination were the in utero children and that notification was accomplished by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a subordinate element of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Public Health Service.
The in utero health study commenced in September, 1999, and data collection ended in January, 2002. The survey was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, who used a telephone survey to contact +/- 16,000 parents of children born at CLNC between 1968-1985 and was part of an ATSDR health study of possible health outcomes of that very susceptible age group.The responders (parents) to the self-reporting survey were not queried as to their personal health status, only the infants.
l. The Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps-Headquarters, and MCB CLNC have, since the time contaminants were identified, made every effort to minimize the magnitude of the contamination problems and to attempt to keep all investigations of same "in-house." The issues of liability for causation and possible adverse health effects from the negligent operations and the costs to the Government attendant thereto are matters of record and investigative reports by external CID agents.
m. The in utero health survey, cited above in Section III, Paragraph K, was a non-DOD program and was intended to commence in 1998 following publication of an ATSDR study on adverse pregnancy outcomes as a result of exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOC's).
By coincidence the movie "A Civil Action," based on the nonfiction story of the Woburn, Massachusetts contamination, was due to be released in the fall of 1998. The Marine Corps found this parallel story to be unnerving because it would open up the Camp Lejeune fiasco to many public inquiries as the survey was then scheduled to begin in September, 1998. The in utero survey was postponed for a year. Documentation on this (October, 1998) bit of governmental pressure is available for review.
n. There is presumptive evidence that information provided by MCB CLNC to ATSDR staff in the early 1990s regarding water treatment plant operations, particularly the geographical areas served by different water treatment plants between 1968-1985, was erroneous which caused the subsequent health studies to be severely flawed and now unusable.
Whether this misinformation was an innocent error or deliberate attempt to minimize the human damage assessment is the subject of an ongoing Criminal Investigation Division inquiry.
o. The Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps (Headquarters and MCB CLNC) continually attempt to mitigate their failure to take appropriate immediate remedial actions regarding the known contamination on raw water supply wells. This is accomplished or undertaken by noting that EPA had not yet established mandatory maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at the time of the discovery of VOCs in the water supply in the 1980s.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does work slowly at times and grants substantial time delays for implementation of new regulations. However, not withstanding this fact of life, several site specific MCLs were developed in the early 1980s for use at other Government caused contaminated sites involving VOCs.
The provider of water in a public water system is always responsible for the safety of the water provided regardless of specific formulaic standards. If the water supply is contaminated and known to be contaminated then the water should not have been distributed to all the military mess halls, billeting areas, etc. and to the family housing complexes on the base. A breach of public trust should not be glossed over!
p. CERCLA and other Superfund amendments require that ATSDR conduct a Public Health Assessment (PHA) on every NPL site and subsequent health studies as necessary. Executive orders have directed Federally owned NPL sites to be dealt with in the same manner.
A major distinction in the development of a PHA for a privately owned NPL site and a Government site is that the regional EPA conducts a preliminary basic infrastructure data required for the ATSDR Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch to begin their scientific studies.
In the case of the CLNC NPL site ALL the background data was provided by MCB CLNC which in essence means the party deemed to be responsible for the contamination, or potentially responsible, is the sole source of raw operational data upon which a scientific study is to be constructed. This is a questionable procedure at best.
Data collection for an assumed objective analysis of what transpired must be accomplished in a process undertaken by objective data collectors. The analysis/study prepared by ATSDR will be utilized by both the Federal Government as the defending party and by the tort claims plaintiffs to buttress their scientific/medical positions should litigation become necessary for closure.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has a reputation for numerous completed epidemiologic/toxilogic studies that fail to come to a definitive conclusion, be it vindications or assignment of fault. "Don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue."
The undersigned petitioners desire that ATSDR staff may continue on further CLNC studies or rework of flawed existing studies be augmented by competent epidemiologists and toxicologists not associated with ATSDR and having no conflicts of interest with the outcome.
An alternative solution is that current ATSDR staff on the CLNC project, with the exception of the historic reconstruction/water distribution modeling group, be replaced totally with contract investigators with a completion deadline as was the case with the Project SHAD investigation as directed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Funding for this support is requested of the Congress.
The focus and scope of any further study of the connections between the Camp Lejeune contaminants and the reported adverse effects need to be expanded and will be discussed in the recommended actions that follow this section.
q. The petitioners seek resolution of the details of the contamination issues, the causes, the actions taken/not taken, and the connections between exposure and known confirmed injuries or deaths. Timely action is of the essence. There are affected families that have lived with this environmental disaster for 36 years and it is time, past time, for the Federal Government to bring closure and compensation where appropriate.
During the past 36 years, medical knowledge of the effects of these chemicals and the human body is far better known that it was at the beginning. Some further study may indeed be appropriate to clarify technical water distribution and exposure levels; however, there is no need to string out the closure and resolution of the claims by redundant studies.
The CLNC site is not a conventional civilian environmental site. There is ample evidence on hand to substantiate the assertion that a conspiracy to conceal violations of Federal and state environmental laws has taken place and involves members of the Federal Government, both military and civilian, from Camp Lejeune to Washington, D.C.
Personnel from EPA Region IV and the State of North Carolina may be involved as well since both agencies had supervisory responsibilities concerning environmental laws.
Congress has the authority to investigate and to ameliorate the consequences of this Federal environmental disaster and suggestions to that effect are provided for your consideration and action should you choose to act on our collective behalf.
IV. Recommended Congressional Actions: Re: Camp Lejeune Chemical Contamination Disaster
a. Consider open hearings by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Armed Forces Committee on those aspects of the problem that are within the purview of those committees. Similar House committee hearings would prove beneficial.
b. Consider directing the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy, and Headquarters, Marine Corps to locate and commence personal notification of every man, woman, and child that resided at the NPL site known as Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune as outlined in Section III.
c. Consider requesting/directing the Department of Veteran Affairs to become medically conversant with the adverse health effects related to contaminant exposure and to authorize additional funding to DVA to provide appropriate medical assistance and disability compensation where warranted.
The petitioners, some of whom fought in Korea and many in Vietnam, make no distinction between chemical poisoning at CLNC and Agent Orange exposure, both being service connected injuries.
d. Determine on what basis the Department of Justice and the Department of the Navy Office of Judge Advocate General will consider settlement of existing claims under the FTCA and the acceptance of new claims that may be made as a result of greater public exposure following committee hearings.
e. Consider legislation revising the essence of the Feres Doctrine which hinges on simple negligence on the part of a service member that results in death or injury to another service member. The CLNC situation may involve criminal negligence, a knowing violation of law and common sense, which many do not consider reason to shield the Federal Government from liability and the payment of compensatory damages.
There are already exceptions in place to the doctrine so this is not untrodden ground for the Congress to consider.
f. Suggest that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry be advised through DHHS or U.S. Public Health Service that planning for future health studies at CLNC involve, in an advisory capacity, members of the families affected by the contamination.
In a stable civilian community facing an environmental problem there is an option for community involvement; however that option is not possible for this group.
The petitioners have concerns about the scope and magnitude of ATSDR studies which are developed by ATSDR staff in Atlanta and fail to be made available for comment by those of us that have already been affected. A notice in the Consolidated Federal Register is not an adequate message.
Past experience has demonstrated that the adverse health effects defined by ATSDR as "outcomes of interest" that concern ATSDR staff seem to bear an uncanny relationship to the quantity of prior published studies as opposed/contrasted to the various conditions experienced by our children be they well documented or not.
Perhaps some more original research, not re-search, on the part of ATSDR staff will add to the world's knowledge of the effects of many chemicals and combinations on the human body.
Studies, if they are to be continued, need to be expanded back in time to 1958 to investigate a broader period of contaminant exposure since it is known that contaminants existed at CLNC long before the arbitrary 1968 date used by ATSDR.
The VOC/adverse pregnancy outcome study published in 1998 and the most recent interim report of July, 2003, must be recalculated since their infrastructure (water distribution system data) basis was erroneous.
Additionally, it is recommended that ATSDR reconsider its exclusion policy for patient studies. There were some 34,000 children born at the U.S. Naval Hospital and some who were born at Onslow Memorial Hospital due to lack of space at the Naval Hospital, 1968-1985, yet only half of them were involved in the survey which finally was diminished to some 30 children with adverse effects.
Such a conclusion is a travesty and flies in the face of the reality we all know in our own lives.
If ATSDR is going to play such an important role in the resolution of the Camp Lejeune puzzle, it must be made more open to public participation in decision making and plan execution under Congressional oversight.
Where that oversight is established is for the Congress to designate.
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