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Warnings about Lejeune's tainted water unheeded for years | McClatchy

WASHINGTON -- For 30 years, thousands of Marines and their family members at Camp Lejeune, N.C., drank, cooked with and bathed in water that was laced with dangerous chemicals, but when outside contractors began raising questions about the toxic water, documents show, base officials rebuffed them and ignored the warnings or ordered more tests.

The worst-offending wells finally were shut down in November 1984, more than four years after the first warnings. In that time, more than 2,500 babies may have been carried in utero on the base or born at Camp Lejeune hospital, according to estimates by federal scientists.

Strung together, thousands of pages of documents tell the story of how the contamination was allowed to continue. They show that Camp Lejeune officials had been told consistently that something very foul flowed through the base's pipes.

The Marines say they closed the wells within days of learning details about the contamination.

"The kind part of me wants to say (the Marines) took a while to figure it out," Mike Hargett, an outside contractor who raised questions about the toxic water in 1982 and 1983, said in an interview with McClatchy. "The unkind part says somebody was sloppy and negligent," said Hargett, who now lives in Rutherfordton, N.C., about an hour west of Charlotte.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Apr 18th, 2010 at 12:33:39 PM EST
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