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2/22/2004 - Associated Press Release

----- Original Message ----- From: "Estes Thompson" To: Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 10:14 AM Subject: story RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ A Vermont senator's call for expanded study into contaminated water at Camp Lejeune could help thousands of people left out of earlier examinations, former base residents said Tuesday. In letters to the secretaries of Health and Human Services and the Navy, Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., said that all Marines and their families who lived in base housing between 1968 and 1985 should be notified of the potential problems. Jeffords sent the letters as the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said spokesman Erik Smulson. The letters were written in response to attempts over the years by defense agencies to get broader exemptions from environmental laws, Smulson said. Marine engineers discovered in 1980 that drinking water at Lejeune, the largest Marine base on the East Coast, was highly contaminated with solvents and other organic compounds and pollutants. The contaminated wells at the base were not closed until 1985. Jeffords said as many as 200,000 people who lived in base housing could have been affected and that congressional hearings on the issue are warranted. There was no immediate comment Tuesday from Marine Corps headquarters. Spokesmen for North Carolina's senators said they maintain contact on the issue with retired Marines and families who formerly lived on base. Brian Nick, a spokesman for Sen. Elizabeth Dole, said the Republican believes that expanding the study to include all former Lejeune residents might delay "determining the effects of the contaminants on human health." The 9-year-old daughter of Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine master sergeant died of cancer after living on base. Ensminger, of Richlands, said he has been contacted by an investigator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "My daughter's dead," Ensminger said. "I have a claim submitted. No amount of money is going to bring Janey back right now, but there are people out there who have children who have been harmed by this and need medical care and adults who need help." Wilmington resident Terry Dyer, 47, lived with her family in base housing for 15 years before her then-45-year-old father _ a Marine school principal _ died of a heart attack in 1973. Dwyer, who has suffered for years from muscle pain and unexplained illnesses, organized a survivors group that is pressing for a hearing. She said she has visited the state's U.S. senators and is working with them to organize a telephone conference call to discuss the issue. Dwyer said people exposed to the contaminated water want testing to determine if they have health problems, health care for their problems and compensation. "There were thousands of children and adults living out there who are sick and dying today," she said. "The Marine Corps knew about this ... They found out about it in 1980 and they didn't cap the wells until 1985." "They're waiting for us to die so that we will be quiet. We're not going to be quiet." ^___= On the Net: Terry Dwyers' group: www.watersurvivors.com | Powered by Orotech.

 
 

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