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Jan 11, 2012

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Frank Vera

George Air Force Base, CA

Did the Department of Defense, Army, and Air Force misrepresent the nature and extent of the contamination at George Air Force Base, CA? I believe that the answer is yes.

The Air Force is/was required by law to deny the existence of any environmental contamination that is/was the result of classified activities.

The DoD and Air Force inserted an interesting clause in the “Federal Facility Agreement for George AFB” that gives them the right to withhold records [pertaining to contamination] at the property.
Page 43, 23. RELEASE OF RECORDS

The Air Force admits that it routinely withheld records about contamination from regulators, contractors, and the public. “Buried Radioactive Weapons Maintenance Waste”

Furthermore, The EPA and the Government Accountability Office found that the Air Force has no idea of what radioisotopes, the amount it buried, or the locations of the radioactive waste dumps on its bases. “Nuclear Regulation - The Military Would Benefit From a Comprehensive Waste Disposal Program”, “Better Data Needed For Radioactively Contaminated Defense Sites”, “Lost AEC Records”

Dr. Sabol was the Chief Environmental Officer for George AFB. I have a statement of facts from Dr. Sabol testifying that he oversaw a search for radioactive waste at George AFB and located 18 to 20 barrels of radioactive material. However, I can find no evidence that Dr. Sabol was interviewed by any of the contractors involved in the Installation Restoration Program (IRP) or by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) for the Health Assessment of George AFB, and none of his environmental reports / investigations are in the George AFB Administrative Record (AR). 8 November 2011

Frank Vera
http://www.georgeafb.info/

John Olin

One interpreta­tion of the MCB Lejeune Commander'­s Letter to ATSDR stating that concerning the drinking water, "the security environmen­t has significan­tly changed" is that the safeness of the base environmen­t (specifica­lly, the safety of the the water and those drinking it) has now become a concern for the Marine Corps.

Vital resources were poisoned by the inaction of the commanders at this base (and every other USMC base) and of DON who is required by EPA to keep these records public. All of the public info is now restricted and subject to release at the whim of the of the polluter. It is clearly a matter of public interest and if subjected to "the public interest balancing test" that is required by the new FOIA law, a decision to withhold informatio­n could not withstand it.

Do FOIA laws require the protection of info about a water system in order to protect the public who is drinking it or the infrastruc­ture of water system itself above the rights of the public who have an interest in their own safety?

The letter and the decision to send it, calls into question the judgment of the current base commander just like the contaminat­ion that was caused by, and mishandled by his predecesso­rs and those in higher USMC and Navy HQ.

History shows that the greatest threat to the safety of any water system is administra­tion by the Marine Corps. The documentation released, only continues to put the judgement and integrity of the Marine Corps into question.

brad giordani

Public Servive is broken because bureaucrats are afraid to stick their neck out (stand up for their country) since it bucks the (party loyality) status quo of wanting safe drinking water. Government was desingned not to work so nothing would change. With 40,000 lawyers in DC and the majority not practicing law, is why legal brinkmanship decides winners and loosers in these situations.

Mike Partain

(Part 1 of 2)

The DoD critical infrastructure information FOIA exemption amendment contained in the 2012 NDAA was first brought to our attention last June when Jerry Ensminger and I were in Washington for the Capitol Hill screening of the Camp Lejeune documentary, Semper Fi: Always Faithful. During the post screening Q & A, a representative from POGO (Angela Cantebury) warned us of the proposed amendment. Thankfully, the full weight of what was proposed was blunted by crucial last minute changes introduced by Senator Leahy and Rep. Maloney.

This is not the first time the Department of the Navy has ventured to meddle with the scientific health studies concerning our exposures at Camp Lejeune. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) began their congressionally mandated studies over 20 years ago in 1991. Under Title 42 of the U.S Code, this agency was required to complete a public health assessment for any and all federally designated National Priority Listed (NPL) sites including Camp Lejeune. Despite massive fuel leaks from the base’s bulk storage fuel farm located on Hadnot Point, somehow the ATSDR missed a critical health exposure of benzene in our drinking water supply. This omission led to the revocation of the ATSDR’s 1997 Public Health Assessment for Camp Lejeune in 2009, the first time the ATSDR ever had to retract one of their PHAs for any NPL site in the agency’s history. Publicly, until 2010, the Marine Corps told Congress, the media and their exposed “Marine Family” that their inventory records indicated that they had lost an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 gallons of fuel at the Hadnot Point Fuel Farm (HPFF). A year after the 1997 PHA was withdrawn; the ATSDR discovered, by shear chance, a hidden electronic web portal containing over a thousand electronic files detailing the extent of the fuel losses at the Hadnot Point Fuel Farm. According to documents in this archive, the Navy estimated as early as 1996, a year before the public release of ATSDR’s PHA for Camp Lejeune, that over 800,000 gallons of pure gasoline was floating in the groundwater aquifer at Camp Lejeune. Sadly, one of the primary drinking water wells was located within a mere 300 feet of this deadly fuel plume. Even though it was ATSDR’s responsibility to identify our exposures to benzene, how could the Marine Corps allow them to omit such an important exposure? Why wasn’t the ATSDR (or the public) told the full extent of the fuel losses at the HPFF? Prior to the release of the 1997 PHA, The ATSDR provided the DoN with no less than 4 draft copies of their PHA for Camp Lejeune and asked them to review it for accuracy and provide comments. Why weren’t these omissions identified and corrected then?

Withholding information was just one of the tactics employed by the DoN to obfuscate and delay the scientific health studies at Camp Lejeune. As recently as last year, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, attempted to withhold funding for ATSDR’s work at Camp Lejeune. All funding for ATSDR’s efforts at NPL sites including Camp Lejeune is structured in Title 42 of the U.S. Code. As required by law, the Primary Responsible Party (PRP) is obligated to fund any and all health study related work performed by the agency. Right from the beginning, the DoN used the power of the purse in several attempts to throttle ATSDR. Shortly after the 1997 ATSDR PHA for Camp Lejeune was released, a possible adverse health outcome was identified for the children born at Camp Lejeune. As a result, a study was proposed by the agency. This study focused on childhood cancers and specific birth defects within the “in-utero” population exposed at Camp Lejeune. When ATSDR approached the DoN for the required funding, they were informed that DoN was not the PRP and thus not statutorily obligated to provide funding for their work. For the first three years of ATSDR’s work, the Clinton administration allocated the needed money for the study and circumvented the Navy’s refusal to pay. At the time, attention for responsibility for the drinking water contamination was focused on a small mom and pop operated dry cleaner located across the street from one of the family housing areas of the base. What the Navy failed to disclose was that they were indeed the PRP for the worst and most extensive areas of contamination on the base. Shortly after the release of the National Research Council’s Report on Camp Lejeune in 2009, the Navy once again attempted to use the power of the purse to squelch ATSDR’s health studies. Secretary Mabus used the conclusions in the errant report to justify withholding funds for a critical water modeling project to determine the extent of our exposures at Camp Lejeune. Funding for this project was finally secured in January 2010 after Senators Burr, Hagan, Nelson and LeMieux repeatedly challenged the Secretary in writing and when that failed, Senator Burr had to resort to blocking all Senatorial conformations of DoN civilian appointments and promotions for senior grade officers.

Mike Partain

(Part 2 of 2)

The DoN was also guilty of resorting to lying as a means to thwart ATSDR’s work. One example occurred last decade while ATSDR’s worked on their studies with the exposed in-utero population on the base. Historically, the base’s drinking water distribution supply was divided into eight individual systems on the base. Not all of them were contaminated. Early in the study period, a Marine Corps official was informed by a member of the affected community that they had provided ATSDR with incorrect information about one of the distribution systems. This system was known as the Holcomb Boulevard water treatment plant. The error centered upon the operational dates of the plant and when it began to supply water to the families on that section of the base. Prior to the plant’s operation, the water was delivered from one of the worst contaminated areas of the base, Hadnot Point. The official recommended, in a written memorandum, that they needed to correct their error with ATSDR. Instead, the Marine Corps continued to assert the error and as a result, babies born on this area of the base between 1968 and 1972 were incorrectly categorized as not exposed.

Much of our success in ascertaining what happened at Camp Lejeune was due to the discovery of critical primary documents revealing the many warnings about the contamination, initial studies on the extent of the contamination and what was known by the command staff aboard the base at the time. We used this information to compile a time line of events (http://www.tftptf.com/5873.html ) supported by the USMC's own documents. Armed with this information we have successfully challenged the Marine Corps both in the media and in Congress. I have no doubt that the introduction of the critical infrastructure information FOIA exemption was in part a reflection of our success. If this exemption had been in place prior to our discovery of the true extent of the contamination at Camp Lejeune, I have no doubt that the reports, water quality readings and memorandums we needed in order to arm ourselves for this fight would have been categorized as part of this exemption. Without these documents, we would have stood no chance against the so called institution of “Honor and Integrity”. Instead, we would have been forced to rely on the good graces of the leadership of the Marine Corps and DoN to tell us what happened at Camp Lejeune. I shudder to think about the hundreds of communities and hundreds of thousands of civilians working and living around DoD installations across this country. My family was one of them. My father chose to start his family as a young officer at Camp Lejeune. I was born there in 1968 and exposed to the contaminated drinking water on the base. Today I am one of 73 men with the unique commonality of either living or working aboard Camp Lejeune who developed male breast cancer. If DoD is allowed to establish a precedent in which they can cloak their environmental atrocities in secrecy, using the pretense of protection from terrorism, how will members of the public ever truly know if the ground they live on, the air they breathe or the water they drink is truly safe? Knowledge is power and nowhere is it more evident than in our fight for justice at Camp Lejeune. THANK YOU POGO, for your recognition of this charade for what it truly is....

Mike Partain

Mary Blakely

I am one of the dependent children who were exposed to the contaminated water aboard Lejeune. I would like to personally thank whoever the brave anonymous source was who leaked the letter. My father a retired Vietnam Marine Corps Vet died on January 5, 2012, the same day the letter was shared. He was diagnosed with Agent Orange related lung cancer in April of 2011 and his cancer spread and killed him as if it had been fertilized by Miracle Grow. I am convinced that fertilizer was the water at Lejeune. Semper Fi, my friend whoever you are!!! From : Master Gunnery Sergeant James Joseph Leake's Youngest Daughter Marylou Leake Blakely

usmc_wlh1975

Once more the DOD is more interested in their image and less interested in the health and welfare of American citizens and service members. Business as usual for DOD. They need to come clean about Camp Lejeune and all of the other super-fund sites around the country! It is time to accept responsibility and allow the public interests to be sustained!!!

Jerry Ensminger

I also find it an extreme conflict of interest that executive branch owners of National Priority List (NPL, Super Fund) sites are given the luxury of requiring the ATSDR to enter into Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) once ATSDR begins their congressionally mandated mission at their site(s). One of the sections of these MOU's is a "communication agreement" where in the case of Camp Lejeune the affected community is completely cut out of meetings between ATSDR and Department of the Navy (DON) representatives concerning the contamination incident at that site. Under this "communication agreement" the ATSDR and the DON are not required to share correspondence between those two agencies with the exposed population(s). I would like to know whose definition of an open, transparent government this situation meets? It is unfortunate but our Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) falls right in line and honors these demands. I have a very valid question, is it DHHS' job to protect public health or when it comes to government owned NPL sites is their job to protect the federal government at the expense of public health? Jerry Ensminger

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