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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. - US Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) issued the following statement reacting to a new National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study on water contamination at Camp Lejeune. The study, released Saturday, concludes that while there was water contamination at the Jacksonville Marine base, additional research is "unlikely to determine conclusively whether Camp Lejeune residents were adversely affected by exposure to water contaminants." Hagan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been very active in working to determine whether the Navy and Marine Corps should have handled water contamination at Camp Lejeune differently.

"The NAS study released Saturday is simply a review of previous scientific literature on hydrocarbon solvents, reports on Camp Lejeune water contamination, and published epidemiologic and toxicological studies," said Hagan. "However, it failed to take into account the conclusions of previous epidemiological studies that found an association between volatile organic compounds (VOCs) exposures and childhood leukemia, and presents some direct contradictions to the EPA's maximum containment levels of VOCs in drinking water. Moreover, the NAS study barely mentioned benzene and vinyl chloride and severely downplays the established links between adverse health effects and exposure to VOCs that were present in the water at Camp Lejeune. For these reasons, I cannot stand behind the validity of the NAS study. Former personnel and residents of Camp Lejeune need closure on this issue and one way to help facilitate that is through a hearing in the Armed Services Committee."

The NAS study neglected to address key historical documents, also omitted in previous studies, regarding verified high levels of benzene found in an operating well on July 6, 1984 in the Hadnot Point water system and the 1979 leak of 20,000-30,000 of fuel at the near-by Hadnot Point fuel farm.

"The resolution of this issue cannot be held hostage to additional scientific studies that may not tell us anything more than we already know. The time has come for Congress, the Department of the Navy, and the Marine Corps to work together to develop a plan to resolve the longstanding issue of water contamination at Camp Lejeune. We already know that exposure to VOCs in drinking water is linked to adverse health effects," Hagan continued. "While it is important that we allow the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to complete its water modeling simulation and pending epidemiological studies for personnel and residents affected at Camp Lejeune, ongoing work on these simulations and studies need not foreclose action by Congress and the administration to reach an appropriate resolution."

Last week, Hagan sent a letter to the Navy along with Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) asking 14 detailed questions to determine if there was prior knowledge of TCE (trichloroethylene), PCE (perchloroethylene), benzene, and vinyl chloride in the water supply before the wells were shut down. The Navy and Marines Corps have until June 25th to respond. Hagan and Burr plan to meet with the Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to address these questions and the conclusions of the NAS study before August.


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