Contamination at NC Marine base lasted up to 60 years
By Maggie Fox, Senior Writer
Some of the wells that supplied drinking water to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were contaminated by cancer-causing solvents for as long as 60 years, a new federal report shows.
Month-by-month calculations show that Marines and their families at the base drank and bathed in water that may have been tainted with trichloroethylene (TCE) from 1948 through 2008. Other water sources were contaminated with benzene from 1951 to 2008, the report shows.
Federal officials have known for years that the base’s water supply was badly contaminated, from fuel leaks and probably from a dry-cleaning plant as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that between 500,000 and 1 million people were exposed to the contaminated water from 1953 to 1987, when the last of several contaminated wells were closed. The new report takes the potential estimates back five years earlier.
"It is possible," Dr. Christopher Portier, director of the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, told NBC News. But he says he believes it more likely the contamination began in 1953, as previously estimated.
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