- Important Article From The Herald/Law Firm
Herald Article and Law firm info - posted by Terry on 8/5/2006
Local man part of national action against U.S. military BY MATT OTTINGER, HERALD EDITOR CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – An Evanston man has joined a campaign against the United States Military for negligence stemming from contaminated water on a North Carolina Marine Corps base. Thomas Kelsey, 50, a Bountiful, Utah native who has lived in Evanston since 2003, has endured years of what were initially mysterious medical problems since he was stationed on the base in the 1970s. His wife and five children have each dealt with similar health problems since that time, as well. “My son, who was conceived and born on the base, had full-blown arthritis,” Kelsey said. Now, Kelsey says his family has been plagued by a litany of problems, including birth defects, stunted growth, thyroid problems, lung disease, heart disease and many more. “I’ve got an incurable rash on my upper body, migraines, muscular-skeletal disease, and every joint and bone in my body is deteriorating,” he said. “I finally had to start using a wheelchair.” Kelsey also noted the women in his family have been hindered by a host of reproductive problems. Kelsey, however, is not alone in his battle. He is one of hundreds who have enlisted the help of North Carolina law firm Anderson Weber & Henry as part of what will likely be a civil action suit against the U.S. Department of Defense. “We haven’t filed a complaint at this point,” said Jeff Weber, an attorney at Anderson Weber & Henry. “We’re still doing investigating and interviewing clients, but we’ve been at this for a year and a half.” Weber noted the Department of Defense is “refusing to have conversations” about the matter, and believes filing a lawsuit in federal court will be the next likely step. “These people are trying to get medical help and testing and they may have critical health problems they can’t afford to take care of,” he said. “Some have even died because of it.” A website (watersurvivors.com) has been created by a group called The Stand, formed by sisters Terry Dyer and Karen Strand, two sisters who lived at Camp Lejeune for 15 years. Although an amendment to provide a reimbursement of health costs was defeated in the legislature, an amendment promoting a study and notification of military families who were potentially exposed to highly contaminated water at the base was approved in June as part of the 2007 Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Senate 96-0. The amendment was authored by Senators Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C. and Jim Jeffords, I-Vt. Although the base closed the contaminated wells in 1985, they had been active since the late 1960s. The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has found that at least 100 babies exposed in utero to the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune suffered birth defects and cancers, including spina bifida, leukemia and cleft palates. The Dole-Jeffords amendment required a comprehensive National Academy of Sciences study to be completed within 18 months to evaluate the strength of the link between man-made chemicals Trichloroethylene (TCE) and Perchloroethylene (PCE) exposure and adverse health impacts for pre-natal, childhood and adult exposures at Camp Lejeune. In 2004, Jeffords called for this investigation of the contamination, and for full notification of those affected. The amendment also required the Marine Corps to notify those potentially affected by the contamination so they can learn what happened, how it may have affected them, and what steps they may consider taking now to minimize the potential health impacts. “I am hopeful that this study will provide the information these families need to answer questions that have lingered for far too long,” said a statement released by Jeffords, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This is the minimum that our government should be doing to address the grievous failure on the part of the Marine Corps to adequately protect its service members and their families.” Kelsey also expressed his appreciation for the work done on his behalf by field representatives of Senators Craig Thomas and Mike Enzi, and Rep. Barbara Cubin. Information regarding this lawsuit is available at watersurvivors.com, and the law firm Anderson, Weber & Henry can be reached at 1-866-993-7958.