WASHINGTON – The Navy has agreed to pay $1.53 million for a mortality study that could show a linkage between toxic water at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and the deaths of Marines and their family members who lived there over a 30-year period.
Some estimates are that during that time, as many as 1 million people were exposed to well water at the base that contained trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, benzene and vinyl chloride. Retired Marine Maj. Tom Townsend, of Moscow, Idaho, has been waiting for the Department of the Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps to take responsibility for the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. He believes the contamination is responsible for the death of his infant son in 1967.
The chemicals were dumped into storm drains, leaked from fuel tanks or were buried in pits across the base. They seeped through the groundwater and into wells that fed the base areas of Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace.
The main contaminated well was shut down in November 1984.
Documents uncovered by McClatchy Newspapers this week indicate that a fuel storage farm at a central part of the base might have had far greater significance to the contamination than previously was known.