Elevated Cancer Rates Linked to US Military Base Contaminated Water


A recently unpublished study reveals elevated cancer rates in individuals who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune, a U.S. military base, due to contaminated drinking water from 1953 through 1987, sparking anger and potential lawsuits against the U.S. government.

Overview of the Study

An unpublished study conducted by a U.S. health agency found elevated cancer rates in military and civilian personnel who resided and worked at Camp Lejeune, a major American military base. The research, which has yet to be released by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), has sparked outrage among individuals who attribute their illnesses to consuming contaminated water at the Marine base from 1953 through 1987.

Implications of the Findings

According to Kenneth Cantor, a former National Cancer Institute epidemiologist, the study revealed an increased number of cancers associated with the contaminated water at the base, providing the strongest evidence to date of the water’s link to cancer. This discovery may lead to an influx of compensation claims and civil cases against the U.S. government, potentially resulting in significant financial liabilities.

Government Response and Criticism

The delay in releasing the report has been met with criticism, with individuals like Michael Partain, a former Camp Lejeune resident, accusing the ATSDR of aiding the government in defending itself from liability. However, ATSDR Director Aaron Bernstein has clarified that the process of reviewing the report is ongoing, including peer and statistical reviews, and multiple levels of internal assessments.

Author’s Frustration and ATSDR’s Process

Frank Bove, the senior epidemiologist at ATSDR, expressed frustration with the delay in releasing the report. He highlighted the extensive review process and Congress’s mandate for the ATSDR to investigate health risks at toxic sites. Bove’s study, which began in 2015, utilized data from U.S. cancer registries to compare cancer rates at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton, a base without fuel-tainted water.

Historical Context and Congressional Involvement

The recent study’s significance is underscored by the ATSDR’s previous report in 1997, which was heavily criticized for dismissing health concerns related to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. Following pressure from Congress and the Community Assistance Panel, the ATSDR was mandated to conduct a comprehensive study on cancer and mortality rates among individuals associated with the base, ultimately resulting in the withdrawal of the 1997 report in 2009.

Conclusion and Ongoing Impact

The yet-to-be-published study on elevated cancer rates at Camp Lejeune highlights the enduring impact of the contaminated water on individuals’ health and the complex process of investigating and disclosing such findings. The potential for legal action and further government accountability remains a focal point for affected individuals and public health advocates.