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From Huffington Post:

The U.S. Navy is asking government investigators to suppress information concerning the toxic water scandal at the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune, according to a letter obtained Thursday by The Huffington Post.

The letter, signed by Maj. Gen. J.A. Kessler of the Marine Corps and dated Jan. 5, 2012, asks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry to withhold from a forthcoming report details about the whereabouts of water lines, wells, treatment plants and storage tanks on the North Carolina military base — in the name of national security.

“The Marine Corps understands the need to share information with the scientific community,” writes Kessler, the Marines’ assistant deputy commandant for installations and logistics. “Prudence requires, however, that information sharing be within the rubric of responsible force protection.”

Government watchdogs and environmental advocates said they interpret the letter as further evidence of a Navy effort to evade culpability for what many call the worst and largest drinking water contamination in U.S. history.

Congress assigned the disease registry to trace when, where and at what levels Camp Lejeune’s drinking water was tainted with toxic industrial chemicals from the late-1950s to the 1980s. The research is a prerequisite for a series of health studies exploring links between chemical exposures and what appears to be increased levels of disease among former Camp Lejeune residents, including male breast cancer and childhood leukemia.

As part of its research, the disease registry must map the entire water system on the base, past and present. And for the findings to be credible, the registry must release all of the information, so other scientists can review or replicate the results. The Navy’s pressure could stymie that effort.

“This is exactly what happens when you have one federal agency investigating another,” said retired Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, the central character of a new documentary, “Semper Fi: Always Faithful,” which tells the Camp Lejeune contamination story.

Ensminger added that the information the Navy seeks to suppress has been in the public domain for decades, including in print materials distributed by the Marines. “Anyone with Google Earth can zoom in on Camp Lejeune and see those red and white checkered tanks popping out of the housing areas,” said Ensminger, who lost his 9-year-old daughter Janey to a rare type of leukemia. Janey was conceived at Camp Lejeune.

Ensminger and other advocates said they are concerned that the letter represents another maneuver by the Navy to cover up its actions and inactions, and to delay justice for the estimated 1 million Marines and family members who were exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune over 30-odd years.

As the documentary explains, base officials received multiple warnings from 1980 to 1984 that tests of the drinking water showed toxic chemicals including the solvents trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), and the fuel additive benzene. Yet the first contaminated well wasn’t closed until late-1984, when the co-owner of an outside lab that had conducted three of those tests notified North Carolina environmental officials. By the end of 1985, 10 more contaminated wells had been closed.

The Marine Corps denies any delay or wrongdoing. TCE, a metal degreaser, and PCE, a dry-cleaning solvent, were unregulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act when they were discovered in water, Capt. Kendra N. Hardesty, a Marine Corps spokeswoman, told HuffPost in an email.

“The test results varied between drinking water samples collected at different times,” Hardesty added. “Base officials were confused and unable to immediately identify the source of the chemicals.”

Legislation is currently pending in the House and Senate that seeks to provide healthcare to Camp Lejeune residents suffering as a result of exposure to the contaminated drinking water. The Senate bill passed the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs over the summer and awaits further action. Legislators are on the hunt for offsets to cover its $340 million price. The House version of the bill, named after Janey Ensminger, has yet to move out of committee.

For Richard Clapp, the Camp Lejeune controversy triggers a bit of deja vu. Decades ago, the cancer expert at the Boston University School of Public Health helped link well water contaminated with TCE and PCE to an unusual number of childhood leukemia cases in Woburn, Mass. — a battle that became the basis of the book and movie, “A Civil Action.”

He recalled his first thought when those same two chemicals “popped up” in the Camp Lejeune water: “Here we go again.”

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From Youtube:

“Trouble is brewing along the Ohio River. For years DuPont has been making products with Teflon and simultaneously pumping its key ingredient, C8, into the local water supply. C8 has been linked to Cancer and birth defects, but little is being done to remedy the situation.” Created by Maria Averion, Lauren Malizia, Mike Burden and Trevor Carmick

From iWatch News:

Three years into Lisa Jackson’s tenure as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than a dozen formal complaints alleging air pollution is disproportionately harming low-income, minority communities remain unresolved. Each of these complaints has languished — in some instances, for more than a decade — in the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights despite Jackson’s stated commitment to environmental justice.

“We must include environmental justice principles in all of our decisions … especially with regard to children,” Jackson wrote in a January 2010 memo outlining the agency’s top priorities.

But EPA documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News and interviews with activists and residents reveal that the administrator’s words have brought little relief to underprivileged communities overburdened with pollution.

The Office of Civil Rights — whose leader reports directly to Jackson — has in its files a total of 38 unresolved complaints dating to July 1994, according to a list published on the office’s website following a Freedom of Information Act request from iWatch News. Fifteen of these OCR complaints involve air pollution.

The EPA did not explain why so many cases remain unresolved. However, a spokeswoman said in an email that “the Agency has made meaningful progress on many of the complaints that remain on its docket.”

Environmental justice advocates are dubious. “The backlog doesn’t seem greatly improved, and it’s not clear what processes they use to evaluate the complaints” said Marianne Engelman Lado, a lawyer at Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm. “Why is that progress?”

Poverty and pollution

Tammy Foster, a 39-year-old housewife turned environmental activist from Corpus Christi, Texas, has had several miscarriages in the 17 years that a complaint alleging discrimination in her community has been pending at OCR. Doctors don’t know why she’s been unable to conceive, she said. “If I had to guess, I’d say living on Refinery Row,” a 10-mile stretch of oil refineries and other industrial plants.

Foster blames emissions from the plants that border the Dona Park neighborhood on three sides for a birth defect that causes her to average four kidney infections per year and for regular outbreaks of hives and blisters. “When I’m gone, I feel great,” she said.

Dona Park, where Foster has lived most of her life, is about 70 percent Hispanic, according to the 2010 census. The U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent American Community Survey found that about a quarter of all families in the community live below the poverty line.

In Ford Heights, Ill., a solidly African-American exurb of Chicago, about 40 percent of all families are in poverty, according to the American Community Survey. In April 2006, residents filed a complaint — still unresolved by OCR — against the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for failing to act on Geneva Energy, LLC, which bought a tire-burning power plant located only blocks from a community center that housed a preschool program.

The plant has operated intermittently due to financial and environmental problems that include a long list of air pollution violations. “The only way that you would know [it was running] is that the smoke was in the air,” said Melva Smith-Weaver, who worked at the Head Start program in Ford Heights until 2007.

”There was quite a few children during that time that were asthmatic. You would expect to have out of 102 kids, one or two that are asthmatic, but we had quite a few — maybe 15 to 20.” In 2009, the preschool program moved to new location about a mile away, but middle school students still attend classes just down the road from the plant.

“This facility is clean and safe for the surrounding community,” said Geneva Energy CEO Ben Rose. He acknowledged the air pollution violations but said “there is little evidence that plants such as ours increase asthma attacks.” Rose said it’s “outrageous that this complaint wasn’t addressed immediately” by OCR.

Ford Heights Mayor Charles Griffin agreed. In an October letter to Jackson, he noted that Geneva Energy is the city’s biggest private employer and taxpayer. “This could have been dismissed after a brief investigation, lifting the cloud of uncertainty from the facility,” Griffin wrote.

The Corpus Christi and Ford Heights complaints are among at least 15 Clean Air Act cases pending with OCR; three of these cases date to the 1990s. Twenty-three other pending complaints allege violations of laws governing water pollution, toxic waste and pesticides.

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From The Los Angeles Wave:

While attorneys fight in the courtroom against the County of Los Angeles and several other entities, many residents who lived in and around the shuttered Ujima Village complex are left to wonder whether their health problems are the result of toxic contamination.

Formerly the Athens Tank Farm between the 1920s and 1960s, the site was acquired from ExxonMobil and transformed into an apartment housing complex in 1972, with financing from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The site was later sold by HUD to the Los Angeles County Housing Authority and the Community Development Commissioners (the five sitting Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at the time) for $1.

In 2004, after poor workmanship of the original construction led to deterioration of the units, the Housing Authority tried to solicit developers to purchase, rehabilitate and operate the site; but the selected developer “later backed out of the proposed transaction, identifying gasoline and crude oil in the soil, soil gas and groundwater below Ujima Village,” said a county document on the chronology of village, which was named after the Swahili word for “collective work and responsibility.”

Willie Mitchell, son of Cordia Mitchell, lived on and off at the village with his mother. He last resided there was the year before the county began removing residents from the area.

In 2007, 64-year-old Cordia died following a battle with leukemia. “The doctor told her she had to have picked up from somewhere or that she was born with it,” Mitchell, 46, said. “She stayed at home a lot, she didn’t really work, she did babysitting. … They said she had to be working somewhere like an oil refinery or somewhere there are a lot of chemicals. Leukemia is not in the family at all, neither side.”

Prior to his mother’s passing, “I noticed that a lot of people over there were dying. I just knew something was wrong,” Mitchell added. “I would leave and then come back home and it was a ghost town over there. They were moving people out. We didn’t understand what happened to her when she got sick and how this came about. I noticed people who lived there after so many … years, they would start getting sick. My mom lived there for over 12 years, she was diagnosed in 2005.”

Mitchell said he knows of neighborhood children who have developed irritable skin rashes, pneumonia, bronchitis and other respiratory problems, while elderly residents reported suffering from various forms of cancer.

There was also talk of birth defects. According to Mitchell, he grew up with two girls who were born with one kidney. “It’s not a coincidence, there is something really wrong going on over there that they are trying to cover up for whatever reason,” he contends. “We are tying to find answers.”

A non-smoker, Mitchell said he has bronchitis and experiences severe migraines and itching. Nervousness, he said, may be due to lingering grief over his mother’s death.

“Sometimes it feels like I’m going to scratch my skin off,” he said, “and it takes a good 10 to 15 minutes before I can even soothe it.”

Don Brown, 57, lived at Ujima for approximately five years. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy for stage four cancer of the liver, which has spread to his intestines.

“When I first realized that something wasn’t right was when my neighbor caught pneumonia — a little boy who was about five caught pneumonia. I caught pneumonia twice,” he said. “My neighbor who was on the back side of my apartment, he caught pneumonia and he died. His neighbor, she caught pneumonia. And then a lot of the kids started having respiratory problems.

“We would get information from the mailbox,” he added. “You would go and get the mail and hear Miss So-and-So passed or so-and-so is real sick. You have over 29 people who have died, you have a lot of people like myself who have cancer and a lot of the kids who lived there have respiratory problems. There are a number of women in there who have had miscarriages. There is a real problem here.”

Brown said he learned of his cancer during a routine check-up. The doctor, he said, was astonished by what she found. “For my age and the health that I am, the cancer is rare and she hadn’t seen it before, and where it was … in the backside of my liver. She said it was real unusual.”

At several community outreach meetings, Brown said he and other residents were never warned about the possible health risks that could be associated with the toxic remnants left behind by Exxon Mobil after the former tank farm was acquired by HUD.

When residents began to question county officials about contamination on the site and possible health risks, “it was hushed,” Brown said. “They said there was nothing around us — yet 20 feet from my door, they were drilling holes. You have people dying. No one came over to Ujima Village to rescue us, they just had us there with a bunch of lies. They left us there to fend for ourselves.”

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From the Provo Daily Herald:

The arsenic exposure risk in Fairfield is official, the health danger real.

Those who live in the Cedar Valley town stand a higher risk of getting some cancers, nerve damage and brain injury with exposure to contaminants from old mine tailings over an extended period of time, according to a new Utah study.

“I think this report will go a long way toward helping us get the visibility we need to get some help for this problem,” said Mayor Michael Burch at presentation of the study on Nov. 10 at the Historic Fairfield Schoolhouse.

Residents had some of their arsenic fears confirmed, other worries put to rest and questions answered by representatives from the Environmental Epidemiology Program and Utah Department of Environmental Quality as the agency representatives presented their public health assessment.

Fairfield residents anxiously looked at the map to identify their homes and farmlands and examined copies of the report at the town hall meeting.

Gardening, a popular pursuit in Fairfield, could potentially increase health risks both from exposure to the arsenic in the soil and from eating vegetables that have absorbed the arsenic in areas where the garden soil is contaminated. One of the community questionnaire tables showed that a majority of Fairfield residents have gardens, many watered with irrigation water, so it is important for residents to identify the properties and ditches where contamination levels are high.

“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 45. I’ve lived here all my life and can’t help but think that the contamination is a factor,” said David Hansen, Fairfield resident and avid gardener.

“I can’t make the statement that it’s a direct result, but I can say that, based on this assessment, there is a risk,” said Dr. Craig J. Dietrich, a Utah Department of Health toxicologist.

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An amazing and in-depth story from California Watch:

The Martin family lives 10 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, in a neat yellow house in a city called Maywood.

Starting a few blocks from their home, nearly 2,000 factories churn out Southern California’s hot dogs, pesticides, patio furniture and other products. Trucks rumble off the I-710 freeway into sprawling freight rail yards. Odors of rotting animal carcasses waft through the family’s windows on hot summer nights.

The Martins also have endured years of illness.

From the time Anaiz Martin was born until she was a toddler, her father would carry her in his arms, his big mustache tickling her baby cheeks. This simple embrace carried a haunting consequence. By age 3, Anaiz weighed just 19 pounds and could barely raise her head. Her parents said they were told by doctors that Salvador Martin’s mustache probably held sickening levels of lead from his plating factory job.

The heavy metal attacked her neurological system, permanently robbing her of critical learning skills.

Two decades later, her family’s woes continue. Anaiz, now 21, her mother and siblings – Adilene, 22, and Sal Jr., 18 – have suffered irritable bowel syndrome, an ovarian cyst, skin rashes, chronic nausea, diarrhea, asthma and depression.

Their mother, Josefina, frets constantly about what she thinks are likely causes: the air they breathe, the ground beneath their home and, most of all, the gunky black, brown or yellow water that has intermittently run from their faucets for years.

“Sometimes I think, ‘Oh my God, I can’t take it anymore,’ ” Josefina, 45, said during an interview in the summer of 2010. “I try to keep myself up and going, but I am really upset all the time. I just want to know what’s going on with my family and all of this contamination.”

The USC Annenberg Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism and California Watch commissioned tests to measure the family’s exposure levels to dangerous metals and industrial byproducts.

Americans have been randomly sampled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 30 years for chemicals linked to cancer, developmental disabilities and other problems, in a process known as biomonitoring. But some experts say one group has not been adequately sampled: people living in the shadow of industry.

The Martin family is among millions of Americans in similar circumstances – forced by their meager wages to live near industrial areas, including aging smokestacks, landfills, locomotives and other potential hazards. Yet because government officials make little attempt to dig deep into toxic exposure in ordinary people, it is impossible to know if they are unique or part of a much larger potential problem in hundreds of neighborhoods across the nation.

* * *

The Martins’ home and their small city sit eight miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, at the crossroads of an American manufacturing and freight-hauling juggernaut. About 1 square mile, Maywood is the state’s most densely populated community. Nearly 50,000 residents – 98 percent Latino – are squeezed into aging apartment blocks and cozy tract houses between a smorgasbord of pollutants.

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From The Baltimore Sun:

Randy White had just buried a daughter, dead at 30 with a brain tumor. Now his other daughter had been diagnosed with growths in her abdomen.

When doctors told White in 2009 that their conditions were likely caused by something in their environment, the Frederick native thought of Fort Detrick. His children had grown up near the Army base.

Detrick was home to the nation’s biological weapons program from the 1940s through the 1960s. It remains a key center for medical research.

“Anybody that lives in Frederick knows all the rumors,” White says. “It’s kind of like, ‘Fort Detrick, they created anthrax, we knew that, smallpox …’ It just clicked for me.”

For decades, Frederick residents had speculated about the possible effects of the experiments at the base on the health of the surrounding community. But it took a grieving father with scientists, lawyers and money — White says he has spent more than $1 million so far — to drag questions about contamination and cancer out into the open.

White hired epidemiologists and toxicologists to monitor the air, soil and water around Detrick. He asked neighbors about their health histories and paid for lab tests to measure the toxins in their blood. He shared his findings with government officials.

The county and state health departments are now studying the cancer rate within a two-mile radius of the base. The Army has released details of Agent Orange testing. And local, state and federal officials are meeting regularly with the community to discuss their progress.

“Without him standing there shaking his hands and dancing around, it would not have gotten this much attention,” says Jennifer Peppe Hahn, a survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, growths on her pancreas and thyroid, and breast cancer.

“When Randy came forward about his daughter’s death,” she says, “somebody had enough money and enough passion at that point that nobody could ignore it.”

White, a former evangelical pastor and a businessman who first contacted officials last year, is demanding information about activities at Fort Detrick past and present, an apology to the people he believes were sickened, and a congressional hearing “so this never, ever happens again in the United States of America.”

He also has filed a mass tort lawsuit. He has been joined by more than 100 fellow plaintiffs.

“I didn’t want to fight, but the fight kind of came to me,” says White, 53. “I had lost my daughter, and then my other daughter was so sick. Our whole motive behind this thing was just to bring resolve and full disclosure.”

The Army says it has no indication that Fort Detrick is currently contaminating its surroundings, and it is responding to the community’s concerns.

State health officials, who are studying the incidence of cancer in the area during the last two decades, say they have found no evidence of a cluster.

But White says the state’s cancer registry is incomplete and out of date. He says his own scientists have found continuing contamination.

“Everything I say is backed up by scientific fact,” he says. “It’s not something we just dream up. … We just want the truth.”

Fort Detrick is a 1,200-acre campus in northern Frederick that today is home to a variety of military and civilian organizations involved in medical research and development, including a National Cancer Institute facility. For years, it was known primarily for its work on biological warfare agents, including anthrax and smallpox.

Scientists developed and tested biological agents there from World War II until 1969, when President Richard Nixon banned research into offensive biological warfare. Since then, researchers have focused on defending against biological attack.

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From .

From : an investigation by 19 Action News Reporter, Scott Taylor.

 

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