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10/6/2004 - Final Water Panel Report

Panel's Findings...Why are we not surprised... - posted by Terry on 10/6/2004 Message: Summary Findings, Recommendations and Key Facts: Report to the United States Marine Corps From The Drinking Water Fact-Finding Panel for Camp Lejeune Arlington, Va., Oct. 6, 2004 – The independent panel appointed by Gen. Michael W. Hagee, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, today submitted its report on decisions relating to the detection of contaminants in some drinking water wells at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., between 1980 and 1985. This summary is taken from the full report, which can be found on the Internet at Summary Findings q Camp Lejeune provided residents with drinking water at a level of quality consistent with general utility practices of 1980-1985, a period in which water quality regulations were evolving rapidly. q Camp Lejeune made every effort to comply with existing water quality regulations, but did not anticipate or independently evaluate health risks associated with chemicals that might be subject to future regulation. q Factors that appear to have hindered Camp Lejeune from quickly recognizing the significance of contamination from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include: the absence of regulatory standards; no records of water quality complaints from base residents; water sampling errors; and inconsistent sampling results. q The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic Division (LANTDIV), as a technical advisory organization, apparently was not aggressive in providing Camp Lejeune with information and expertise to help the base understand the significance of the contamination and how it could have been addressed. q Inadequate funding, staffing, and training of Camp Lejeune’s Environmental Division, combined with its compliance-based approach to regulations, contributed to a lack of understanding about the potential significance of the first indications of contamination and subsequent test data in the early 1980s. q Internal communications about drinking water contamination within the Camp Lejeune organization, and between Camp Lejeune and LANTDIV, were inadequate. - more - Camp Lejeune Panel Report Findings and Facts – Page 2 Summary Findings (continued) q Communications to Camp Lejeune residents regarding drinking water contamination were not detailed enough to completely characterize the contamination found at the time of the well closures. q The Panel found the Marine Corps acted responsibly and saw no evidence of attempts to cover up information that indicated contamination in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water. The Panel Encourages Three Actions q The Marine Corps should upgrade environmental and risk communications training for base leadership and staffs to assure that any future environmental issues are handled more precisely and promptly. q The Marine Corps should make the information collected by the Panel available to the public. q The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry should expedite its epidemiological study of possible health effects from contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Key Facts About The Panel’s Work q The Commandant of the Marine Corps issued a charter March 18, 2004, creating the Panel and defining its objective. The Panel began work April 1, 2004, with three members. Two individuals with specific scientific and engineering expertise subsequently joined the Panel. q The Panel received more than 1,600 documents, including more than 660 documents from the Marine Corps. Documents underwent multiple reviews and were organized and archived in a database. The Panel requested documents under the Freedom of Information Act from state and federal environmental agencies and organizations within the United States Navy and the United States Army. The Panel also requested documentation from former residents and interested members of the public. q The Panel retained a licensed professional investigator experienced in environmental issues to obtain first-hand information by interviewing 25 individuals associated with, or knowledgeable of, Camp Lejeune’s water system and environmental monitoring practices. q Panel members visited Camp Lejeune May 10 and June 11, 2004, to view its drinking water systems first-hand and understand water distribution operations. q The Panel conducted public meetings in Jacksonville, N.C., June 24-25, 2004, to receive information from former Camp Lejeune residents and interested members of the public. q The Panel obtained information on the actions of regulatory agencies regarding TCE and PCE during 1980-1985, as well as literature on the U.S. water industry’s understanding of VOC contamination and its treatment practices during that period. q The full report will be available on the Internet at the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune Web site: 10/6/2004


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