Death Watch

Evidence continues to mount that the water contamination at Camp Lejeune caused serious health problems. A number of new studies have been released since A Trust Betrayed went to press and all of them help confirm the worst fears of former residents of the base.

birth defects and childhood cancer study was released in December 2013 by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry—part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This was actually the culmination of a 1999-2002 survey of 12,598 parents of children conceived or born at Camp Lejeune between 1968 and 1985. The initial survey uncovered 106 cases of birth defects or cancers among those children, including 35 with neural tube defects (spina bifada or anencephaly), 42 with oral clefts and 29 with childhood cancer.

The CDC conducted follow-up surveys after it completed an extensive water-modeling study to help determine exposure levels of people living in various parts of the base at different times. In the subsequent surveys the CDC was able to confirm about half of the cases that were initially reported: 15 cases of spina bifida or anencephaly, 24 oral clefts and 13 cancers.

Even with the lower number of confirmed cases, it means nearly one of every 250 children born at the base during the period of contamination suffered a very serious health problem.

Two months after that study was released, the CDC issued a mortality study comparing causes of death at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton – a similar-sized Marine base but one without contaminated drinking water – in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Generally, the study found that past residents of Lejeune had a 10 percent higher death rate from cancer than those at Pendleton, and the death rates for certain types of cancer were much higher at Lejeune. For example, at Lejeune there were 68 percent more deaths from multiple myeloma, 47 percent more deaths from Hodgkins lymphoma, and 42 percent more deaths from liver cancer.

Another ATSDR study released last fall suggested that “adverse birth outcomes might be associated with women’s exposure during pregnancy” to volatile organic compounds in the base drinking water.

Still to come from the CDC are studies of male breast cancer among former residents of Lejeune; a new Public Health Assessment to update the PHA released in 1997 but that was later withdrawn when it was found that benzene exposure was not assessed; and a health survey of more than 300,000 Marines and civilians who lived or worked at Lejeune before 1985, along with a comparative survey of Camp Pendleton Marines and civilians in the same period.

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The latest news on Camp Lejeune since publication of A Trust Betrayed:

New Lejeune water contamination report raises concerns, Jacksonville Daily News, March 19, 2015

11th Circuit declines to rehear Camp Lejeune drinking water suit, Westlaw Journal, February 12, 2015

Law expands water contamination dates for family claims, Jacksonville Daily News, December 19, 2014

Why Didn’t Toxic Waste Cause a Cancer Epidemic, Like We Expected in the 1970s?, National Geographic, December 14, 2014

ATSDR Study Suggests Women’s Exposures to Contaminated Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune Might Be Associated with Adverse Birth Outcomes, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, November 21, 2014

Interview with Mike Magner, author of A Trust Betrayed, The Living Well Show, October 2014

VA vows to pay families sickened after exposure to Lejeune water, Charlotte News & Observer, October 20, 2014

Statute of Repose Issues Illustrated in the Dismissal of Camp Lejeune Pollution Claims, Brad Reid Dean of the Institute for Corporate Governance and Integrity, Lipscomb University, Huffington Post, October 20, 2014

File Under Disgraceful: Appeals court rejects Camp Lejeune water lawsuit, Chatham (N.C.) Bulletin Board, with link to Charlotte Observer, October 14, 2014

U.S. court rebuffs Marine Corps families in polluted water case, Reuters, October 15, 2014

I-Team: Toxic-water victims at Camp Lejeune can’t sue, WTVD Raleigh, N.C., October 14, 2014

A 31-year-old man deals with breast cancer, PR Urgent press release, October 12, 2014

Lejeune vets exposed to toxic water have deadline extended, Marine Corps Times, October 7, 2014

Peter Devereaux: With tenacity and a smile, North Andover (Mass.) Wicked Local, October 7, 2014

Lejeune families finally getting help, Jacksonville Daily News, September 28, 2014

Under 2012 law, VA to cover health costs of Marines’ ill dependents at Camp Lejeune, Washington Post, September 24, 2014

New regulation would allow dependents to claim contaminated water health issues, Jacksonville Daily News, September 24, 2014

Mortality study of civilian employees exposed to contaminated drinking water at USMC Base Camp Lejeune: A retrospective cohort study, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, August 2014

Camp Lejeune and the U.S. Military’s Polluted Legacy, Newsweek, July 16, 2014

Drinking from a Poisonous Tap: Over 6 Decades at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base, Lou Freshwater, July 2014

Obama administration moves to deny justice for Camp Lejeune veterans, Roll Call: Guest Commentary, July 2, 2014

Excerpt from A Trust Betrayed, Utne Reader, June 2014

Camp Lejeune water pollution victims setback, Living on Earth, June 20, 2014

Governor signs bill helping Lejeune, Asheville families in pollution lawsuits, Charlotte News & Observer, June 20, 2014

Senate approves CTS lawsuit contamination bill, Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-TImes, June 19, 2014

Obama lawyers find finish to Lejeune toxic-water case, North Carolina News, June 12, 2014

Supreme Court supports toxic polluters, imperils Camp Lejeune vets’ litigation, Project on Government Oversight, June 9, 2014

Erin Brockovich discusses Camp Lejeune victims on MSNBC, Project on Government Oversight, April 22, 2014

New Book Examines Camp Lejeune Water Poisoning, Project on Government Oversight, April 17, 2014

New Camp Lejeune documents come to light, Tampa Bay Times, April 8, 2014

Loveland veteran is waiting for answers, Loveland (Colo.) Reporter-Herald, April 6, 2014

Cancer study on Camp Lejeune mired in controversy, Project on Government Oversight, March 31, 2014

Government straddles both sides in toxic water cases, USA Today, March 1, 2014

Camp Lejeune study called ‘significant step’ in understanding cancer cases, Tampa Bay Times, February 20, 2014

GOP bills would allow VA secretary to fire career executives over performance, The Washington Post, February 14, 2014

VA under fire for proposed disability filing rule, Associated Press, January 11, 2014

CDC report shows danger at Camp Lejeune, The Virginian-Pilot, December 11, 2013

CDC’s Camp Lejeune study links birth defects to marine base’s drinking water, CBS News/AP, December 6, 2013