WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Marines at Camp Lejeune put their lives on the line for our country, but a study released today shows many of them and their families were being poisoned by water on base even longer than thought.
We have long known that water on Camp Lejeune was contaminated for years, but today's report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry shows that it was much worse than originally thought.
"Not only were the wells contaminated, but the tap water was contaminated," said Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine who once lived on base.
Recently the ATSDR used a method of reconstruction known as water modeling to estimate drinking water concentrations at Camp Lejeune. The research found that water at the Hadnot Point Treatment Plant far exceeded current maximum contaminant levels for up to five cancer causing industrial solvents between 1953 and 1985.
Ensminger believes the cancer that killed his daughter stemmed from the water contamination.
"They made a chemical dump," he said. "That's where the stuff was supposed to be disposed of. They were dumping it in the ground, dumping it down the drain, and nobody was following the regulations and nobody was enforcing them."
The Marine Corps released this statement in response to the ATSDR report:
"This release marks a major milestone towards the completion of scientific efforts pertaining to this issue and another step in ongoing efforts to provide comprehensive science-based answers to the health questions that have been raised. ATSDR will use these results and the results of a similar water model developed for the tarawa terrace area in 2007 to estimate chemical exposures for several of their on-going health studies"
Yesterday Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) filed a bill to extend health care coverage for those effected by the tainted water back to 1953, which is four years earlier than the law now covers.