ONLY ON 3: New Hanover Co. Commissioner denies being part of Lejeune water cover-up

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Submitted: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 9:03pm
Updated: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:50am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The effects of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune continue to ripple across the community. As one retired Marine continues to speak out about the controversy, he’s making some serious allegations against a New Hanover County Commissioner.

Fuel leaks and other pollution contaminated the wells at Camp Lejeune from the 1950s to the 1980s. Retired Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, believes the water is why his nine-year old daughter died of leukemia. He’s featured in the documentary, “Semper Fi: Always Faithful,” which claims the Marine Corps covered up the contamination.

During a recent interview on The Big Talker FM with Chad Adams, Ensminger also accused New Hanover County Commissioner Rick Catlin of helping the cover-up by creating a password protected file that contained secret information about the fuel contamination.

“This electronic file was constructed and created by a contractor of a person who is right there in your home area there, Chad, it was created by Catlin Environmental Engineering,” Ensminger said.

We e-mailed Catlin a copy of the interview. Catlin responded with this statement: “I share Master Sgt. Ensminger’s concerns and applaud his loyalty to his fellow marines and their families. He has, however, mistakenly misinterpreted the data website created by my firm. There are no hidden files. Many public and private environmental professionals have access to this collaboration website.”

Catlin’s company is part of the clean-up process on base and has been for about a dozen years.

As for creating this website, Ensminger admits Catlin didn’t break any laws.

“I would say Mr. Catlin and his company was covered legally, but morally, I question their initiatives,” Ensminger told Adams.

In response, Catlin said, “As professional engineers our primary duty is to ‘protect public health and welfare.’ All of our efforts have been toward solving and facilitating technical solutions. I am sorry that Master Sgt. Ensminger has chosen to question the integrity of our firm.”

The Aency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is currently conducting a health survey on those who lived on base between 1972 and 1985. The agency is scheduled to release findings in 2014.


  • Jerry Ensminger says:

    “The website was created to make it easier for the various team members to view the reports and saves money and printing costs since many of the reports are at least 2 inches thick.”

    If in fact all of the information included in this website was readily available to the public and the only reason you created it was to make it easier for the various team members to view the reports, why was it password protected?

  • Jerry Ensminger says:

    Mr. Catlin made the following comment;

    “I am sorry that Master Sgt. Ensminger has chosen to question the integrity of our firm.”

    I want to remind Mr. Catlin that my questioning of the integrity of his firm wasn’t by choice, it is out of necessity to ensure justice. The comments of his own employees is proof positive that something was definitely amiss with the creation of this password protected data/document repository. If in fact Mr. Catlin and his company were “hoodwinked” by the Department of the Navy and the United States Marine Corps then that would be all he needs to say. If public health is truly his priority then I would expect that he would step out and condemn the Navy and Marine Corps for misleading him and his company into believing that all of these data/reports were in the public domain. The question is, will he bite the proverbial hand that feeds him? Will he step out and reinforce his commitment to protect public health or will he take the safe route to protect his lucrative contracts with the DON?

  • Mike Partain says:

    I read the earlier comment from Mr Mason and found myself wondering, if he was talking about the same web portal we were discussing in this article? Mr. Rick Shiver was gracious enough to provide me with a copy of his personal Camp Lejeune file after our meeting last July. According to the index provided by the Navy for their password protected web portal/library, there are approximately 1,536 individual documents contained in this library. While some of these documents are indeed at NCDENR, most of them are not. In fact, while we were reviewing NCDENR’s files, we even found emails from the Navy stating that they may have forgotten to provide NCDENR a copy of one particular report…the email was sent within days after stories began to break in the media (Spring 2010) that the fuel spill at Hadnot Point was much larger than previously known….go figure, it seems that someone was a little worried.

  • maloubird says:

    There are many excuses given by all involved with the contaminated drinking water of Lejeune and information being lost,hidden,or overlooked, but the bottom line is still the same. United States Marines, United States Marine Corps and Navy Dependents, and thousands of United States Civilian Workers who lived and worked aboard USMC Base Camp Lejeune have and are dying and living with the legacy of their exposure to toxins in that damn water. To offer any excuses regarding anything surrounding this tragedy is a statement of character and a sign of who you are Guestx1999Vb. My name is Mary Leake Blakely and my dad is a retired Vietnam Era Vet and my family and I were exposed and are suffering every day because of people just like you who make excuses for everything and everybody who allowed it to happen and continue to lie and hide the truth.I try and keep things in perspective and make the excuse that people like you are not directly responsible,but I refuse to remain silent while you offer excuses without a real name to back it up.If you would like to defend this issue in the future,try using your real to do it because it is real people who are SUFFERING!!!

  • Guestx1999Vb says:

    All good engineers and architects create password protected websites for big projects.
    This Master Sgt. has a good cause but this engineer’s website is a normal thing these days. Probably not a normal thing when he was serving.

  • Jerry Ensminger says:

    If all of this information was so publicly available, I have a few questions you should follow up with Mr. Catlin on;

    1) Why was this information stored in a password protected file?

    2) Why didn’t the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) find out about the information/data in that file until 2009?

    3) Why was the creation of the password protected file initiated the same month that ATSDR held their first meeting and announced their plans to model the contaminated drinking water systems on Camp Lejeune?

  • Jerry Ensminger says:

    I’m sorry but Mr. Catlin’s firm didn’t create this password protected file for their own use, they were contracted by the Department of the Navy to construct it. None of the information contained in that file was made available to the public nor to the ATSDR…it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why! It contained information concerning the loss of over a million gallons of gasoline that had leaked into the groundwater aquifer where Hadnot Point’s drinking water was being drawn from. Prior to ATSDR’s discovery of this password protected file, the public, ATSDR, and congress were all under the impression that a maximum of 50,000gals. of fuel was all that had been lost out of the Hadnot Point fuel farm for the entire 50 year period of its existence (1941-1991).

  • Not a PE says:

    With due respect to my sister service member, he is fairly off-base here.

    Mr Catlin: “As professional engineers our primary duty is to ‘protect public health and welfare.’ All of our efforts have been toward solving and facilitating technical solutions. I am sorry that Master Sgt. Ensminger has chosen to question the integrity of our firm.”

    His first sentence is accurately reflects a PE’s oath, I believe. Professional Engineers swear an oath, are licensed, and have a seal in their name which they affix to documents, They take those matters pretty seriously…knowing if they violate that, they could get in trouble and even lose their business and license.

    Password protecting a file is a basic procedure to safeguard, but also prevents someone from coming in and editing or manipulating a file.

    Don’t bring a morality issue into it…tell me their aren’t a few folks that would manipulate something to strengthen their cause or case?

  • Jerry Ensminger says:

    “Password protecting a file is a basic procedure to safeguard, but also prevents someone from coming in and editing or manipulating a file.”

    I could go along with that reasoning except for the fact that these documents were loaded in a non-editable pdf format.

  • Not a PE says:

    There are many free .pdf to word conversion files…I use them all the time.

  • Jerry Ensminger says:

    I want to make something perfectly clear regarding this issue. This password protected file which has been referenced in this article and the discussion comments following it, is not some small individual document. This password protected file is a huge repository of documents/reports relating to the fuel losses and the contamination of soils and groundwater at Camp Lejeune. There is/was absolutely no justification why the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease registry and congress weren’t informed of the existence of this repository back in 2004!

  • Mike P says:

    I gather from some of the prior comments that there is a failure by some to understand the significant difference between a password protected file and a hidden password protected document
    Library such as the one discussed in this article. Yes, I agree that there are times professionals have to take measures to guard access to their work. The difference here is that Camp Lejeune is a Federally designated Superfund site which requires public disclosure of the documents pertaining to the release of the materials, the contamination sites and their clean up. Theses were not just password protected files, it was an entire document library detailing the loss of over 1 million gallons of fuel at the Hadnot Point Fuel Farm. The bigger question is why we’re these files kept from public view? Why were they hidden from scientist working on our health studies until the existence of this library was accidentally discovered in 2010? And after that, why did it take two U.S. Senators to force the Navy to partially release the contents of this Library in August 2010?

  • Jerry Ensminger says:

    I would like nothing more than to sitdown face to face and on camera with Mr. Catlin and discuss the Department of the Navy contract for the creation of this password protected electronic repository by his company. In fact, why doesn’t WWAY Channel 3 ask Mr. Catlin to produce that contract and all emails pertaining to it?

  • Robert Green says:

    My late grandfather used to drive a Texaco fuel truck out of Fayetteville,N.C during the 50’s and 60’s and told me as a young man how the fuel was handled.He would show up on the base and ask where the fuel was to go.He was told to open up his valves and dump it along the road as he drove.He was told it was not necessary for the fuel to be deposited and stored in a proper container.He was dumbfounded by the request but complied with their demands.At the time, he figured the military had integrity and there was no reason to question their demand.He told me this story during the early 80’s before his passing.I thought it was quite odd but never gave it much thought over the years until people started speaking of contaminated drinking water.A year ago, I was speaking with a co-worker of mine about military procurement and their wasteful approach.He told me of a family member, who had interaction with the military as well.He told me of their procurement of railcars full of supplies that were not needed.They buried the railcars full of their content under the ground.Therefore, it all now adds up to why there is contamination of the water supply.The military was trying to spend all the money budgeted for each fiscal year whether they needed the supplies or not.Also, during this time period, people were ignorant about the environmental impacts of their incompetent actions.

  • Mike Mason says:

    I am the Navy Program Manager at CATLIN Engineers and Scientists. As a matter of clarification, the reports referenced by Mr. Ensminger are and have always been available to the public at the local North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) office on Cardinal Drive in Wilmington. Anyone can view and copy these reports by requesting access from NCDENR. The website was created to make it easier for the various team members to view the reports and saves money and printing costs since many of the reports are at least 2 inches thick.

  • Jerry Ensminger says:

    Mr. Mason, After the discovery of the existence of this password protected electronic repository I made a specific point in contacting Mr. Bruce Reed in the Wilmington NCDENR office. I specifically checked with Mr. Reed to see if the State DENR did in fact have all of these documents and I made a special trip to their office to review their document files. In July of this year Mr. Partain and I went to a meeting with Mr. Reed and Mr. Rick Schiver at their Cardinal Drive office and during both of the above meetings these gentlemen confirmed that they did not have many of the documents contained in the password protected electronic portal. Nor did they have access to the portal…why? Furthermore, representatives from ATSDR had made numerous requests and actual visits to the NCDENR offices in both Wilmington and Raleigh in attempts to acquire information/data needed for their water modeling efforts at Camp Lejeune. Most of the information in this password protected electronic file was not in the possession of the State of North Carolina!

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