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Letter to Fred Upton and Henry Waxman, Chair and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce - Camp LeJeune Water Contamination


Location: Washington, DC

Today, Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI12) called on leadership of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to conduct further hearings regarding water contamination at Camp Lejeune. In a letter to Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Waxman, Dingell cited today's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry report detailing that contamination may have dated back to as early as 1948.

Full text of the letter can be found below:

March 15, 2013

Dear Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Waxman:

I write to you regarding the urgent need for Congressional oversight of the groundwater contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. This environmental catastrophe has many far reaching implications which deserve to be further explored by Congress, especially with the ongoing implementation of P.L 112-154, the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Victims of Camp Lejeune Act. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has conducted oversight on this important matter in years past, though regretfully not in the recent past. Today I respectfully request the Committee continue this tradition by holding hearings on the current issues surrounding the contamination at Camp Lejeune.

It is well established that as many as one million Marines and their families were exposed to toxic bathing and drinking water during their time at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Reports indicate the presence of known human carcinogens in the water at dangerously high levels, including benzene, PCE, TCE, and vinyl chloride. Specifically, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR) reports on contamination at the Tarawa Terrace treatment plant concluded that the maximum level of PCE in the drinking water was 215 parts per billion, well exceeding the current limit of 5 parts per billion. This week, ATSDR released their Chapter A water modeling report for the Hadnot Point and Holcomb Boulevard sites. This devastating report gives us a more complete picture of the appalling levels of carcinogens in the groundwater that our Marines and their families were exposed to at Camp Lejeune. As a result, many residents of Camp Lejeune have died, contracted rare cancers, and have had their children born with horrible birth defects.

The Committee should continue to conduct oversight of this issue, as was done in the past, to ensure ATSDR's remaining reports are done thoroughly, promptly, and without outside interference. Active oversight is needed to ensure that the mortality and birth defect studies are done in a timely manner and in keeping with good scientific practices. Hearings should also examine whether the state cancer registries are readily accessible to medical researchers and co-operate with such researchers.

These reports by ATSDR are essential to having complete public knowledge about one of the worst contaminations of a public drinking water system in our nation's history, and to help afflicted veterans receive the benefits they deserve. Significantly, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is closely examining the ATSDR reports as they continue to implement the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Victims of Camp Lejeune Act, which provides much needed health care to our veterans who were exposed to these carcinogens. Veterans badly need this oversight so they can receive the benefits they deserve, and are now mandated to receive by law.

Further, following the passage of the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Victims of Camp Lejeune Act, we have learned that the scope of this contamination may have been larger than previously thought. Additional Congressional oversight is needed to determine the entire scope of this disaster. All of the causes of this drinking water contamination must be identified and understood to ensure that his can never happen again. This is best achieved through an open process of committee hearings with full participation of all relevant stakeholders. Furthermore, the country as a whole would benefit from an open discussion about the implications of one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation's history.

I respectfully urge you to hold hearings on the water contamination at Camp Lejeune to help answer the pressing questions that remain unanswered in the face of this catastrophe, and to help the victims receive the justice they deserve. I look forward to working with both of you on this important issue.

With every good wish,

Sincerely yours,

John D. Dingell

Member of Congress

cc: The Honorable Tim Murphy, Chairman

Committee on Energy and Commerce

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

The Honorable Diana DeGette, Ranking Member

Committee on Energy and Commerce

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

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