Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

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Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base

Jacksonville, NC

Camp Lejeune is also known as a base riddled with contamination where soldiers who dedicated their lives to their country are now losing their lives to cancer and various other major health issues. These soldiers and their families were commissioned by the military to live on base where common practice allowed for the dumping of oil and industrial wastewater into storm drains and potentially radioactive material was buried. These common practices allowed toxic chemicals to seep into the water tables and to ultimately contaminate the water supply on base.

Since that time it is known that between 1952 and 1987 the men, women and children living at Camp Lejeune drank and bathed in water laced with such toxic chemicals as trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical used as a degreaser, perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry cleaning solvent, and benzene, and industrial solvent.

During the 1970's, the EPA labeled Camp Lejeune a major polluter. Regulations were added by the military in 1984 outlining the proper technique required for disposal of hazardous waste such as organic compounds which could possibly infiltrate and contaminate drinking water. Reports show that as early as April 1980, leakage problems from buried fuel tanks could make water contamination a possibility. Regardless of prior warning signs, the military did not begin testing the drinking water until 1982. By this time, the most of people having lived on base had been touched in some way by potential carcinogens found in the water.

For more specific information, visit The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten.

Stories of Those Exposed at Camp Lejeune


Statement of Mike Partain

My father was stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1967-1968 as a young lieutenant in the Marines. He and my mother lived in base housing at the Tarawa Terrace subdivision (3374 Haggaru Road) after he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. I was conceived in April 1967, carried and born at the base in January of 1968. I was born underweight and with a severe skin rash that I still have to this date. As a child, I suffered numerous ear and sinus infections that diminished as I entered my teens. I married and became a father of 4 and settled into my adult life. Then in April of 2007, my wife gave me a hug that changed my life. During that hug, she felt a lump in my right breast. The lump was a malignant tumor and I was diagnosed with male breast cancer. The tumor was 2.5 Cm and was surgically removed in a mastectomy. I now have a 14 inch scar where my right breast used to be. I also lost 1 lymph node but it was not cancerous. The doctor prescribed 6 months of chemotherapy.

As you may already know, breast cancer is rare in men and even rarer in men under 60. Male breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of all diagnosed breast cancers. In July of 2007, I underwent genetic testing for the hereditary breast cancer mutations BRCA 1 and 2. Most men who develop male breast cancer carry this gene. I tested negative for the genes. I do not drink nor do I smoke. There is no history of breast cancer in my family. According to the geneticists at Shands University Hospital, the occurrence of male breast cancer in the general population without the BRCA mutations is .05%.

Statement of Christie Perez

The contamination at Camp LeJeune was revealed to me when I began research because my husband, Samuel "Jason" Perez, age 29 was diagnosed with the extremely rare form of cancer, Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma. Because of the rarity of this type of cancer his physician asked him if he had ever been exposed to chemicals. Also upon hearing the diagnosis his mother immediately mentioned the water contamination at Camp LeJeune . Jason was conceived and lived on Camp LeJeune as a child. His father is a proud, retired, Sgt. Major in the Marine Corp

Since then (September of 2002) I have learned a lot about the disease and the poisonous chemicals that our military and their families were exposed to on that base. The fact that dry cleaning chemicals were dumped into the drinking water system is enough alone to justify a study on those exposed. There were many more chemicals in the water on that base and I believe because Jason was conceived there, he was affected as a fetus, as well as a young developing child while he consumed the poisons all around him in Tarawa Terrace where he lived. He also had a lot of the same symptoms others have reported such as cysts, ear problems and skin disorders. Those were the obvious signals; the tumor on his adrenal gland was not.

My husband died October 2, 2002, just 5 weeks after his diagnosis. He left me, our son, Austin age 6 and daughter, Alenna age 3. We miss him every day - he was an extremely loving father - who absolutely adored his children.

Now I worry every time my children have a fever or a stomach ache. I wonder if they may have been exposed through their father. I worry that the chemicals Jason was exposed to may affect their health in the future.

If Jason had been warned and monitored he may have been saved. As it was, he was a strong, seemingly healthy young man who, when he complained of back pain, doctors thought he had strained a muscle. The tumor was not discovered until it was 14 cm and to large to remove. The last few weeks of his life were very unpleasant and horrific for him and his family. These affected individuals need to be monitored - it can save their lives.

I hope for some sort of legislation to allow the affected including, my children, to be screened periodically to see if the water has damaged them. Please help us all achieve some peace of mind.

Thank you for your consideration, on behalf of Jason, Austin and Alenna Perez.

Statement of Kris Thomas

I am also a victim of exposure to TCE at Camp Lejeune. I have male breast cancer. Male breast cancer is very rare in men. According to The American Cancer Society only 2,000 men will be diagnosed with male breast cancer in the United States this year. If we put that in perspective, breast cancer is about 100 times less common among men than women. For men, the risk of breast cancer is 1/10 of 1%. Most men with male breast cancer are between 60-70 years of age. Additionally, most of these men also have a family history of the disease.

Not only do I have a rare form of cancer, I am younger than the majority of men that do have breast cancer. Three years ago, at the age of 47, the diagnosis came. I do not smoke, drink alcohol and have no family members with breast cancer. Additionally, I have had the genetic test for breast cancer and it was determined that I do not carry the gene.

My connection to the TCE contamination occurred at Camp Lejeune. I lived on base at Tarawa Terrace from around 1966 through 1970 and attended the elementary school on base. I played in the drainage ditch by my house, the canal and the New River constantly during the years that my family lived at Tarawa Terrace. The address was 1551 Matanikau Street.

Currently, I am through with chemo and am continuing to work at regaining my strength.