Senator Burr Statement on EPA Decision and Its Impact on Veterans and Civilians Exposed to Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune

October 3, 2011

Today, U.S. Senator Richard Burr issued the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to classify the trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical found in solvents to remove grease from metal, as a known human carcinogen.

"Yesterday, the EPA made official what we have expected for some time now, that TCE, a chemical that was present in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune for decades, is a known human carcinogen and represents a grave health risk to those exposed to it. This designation, which raises questions about the National Academy of Science's 2009 review of TCE and PCE at Camp Lejeune that the Navy and Marine Corps have cited in their literature to the affected community, is of the utmost significance as it will further inform veterans and their family members, who may have contracted various forms of cancer as a result of exposure to this chemical, of the risk associated with it. I am hopeful additional awareness will spur them to get the medical assessment and treatment they need.

"While this is an important step towards providing care for those who suffer adverse health effects resulting from exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, we still have a long way to go. These men and women were poisoned through no fault of their own decades ago, yet many of them are still shouldering the burden of care or waiting too long to get the benefits they are due. Much progress has been made to address this problem, but we must take further steps to ensure that this population of veterans and civilians are aware of these developments so that they can receive the care and benefits they deserve."

An estimated 750,000 people may have been exposed to probable and known human carcinogens in the base's water supply between the 1950s and 1980s. This is the largest recorded environmental incident on a domestic Department of Defense installation.