01.31.12

Statement on Joint Congressional Letter Regarding Transparency in Camp Lejeune Investigation

Last week, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) sent a letter to Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regarding the legal basis for removing certain information from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR) scientific report on water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Senators Hagan (R-NC), Nelson (D-FL) and Rubio (R-FL) as well as Representatives Miller (D-NC) and Dingell (D-MI) joined him in signing the letter.

Today, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) released the following statement on his Facebook page.

http://www.facebook.com/SenatorRichardBurr

"For three decades, the Marines, sailors, and their families who lived at Camp Lejeune were exposed to TCE and other dangerous chemicals in their tap water. A significant portion of this community have suffered severe health consequences, such as cancers caused by exposure to TCE, which the EPA finally acknowledged to be a carcinogen in October 2011. This acknowledgement of a direct scientific connection between TCE and a number of cancers and illnesses helped answer some questions for the men and women who wondered how they were affected by contaminated drinking water on the military base, but many more questions remain.

"Marines, sailors, and the rest of the Camp Lejeune community were sacrificing for our country when they were exposed to harmful chemicals without their knowledge, and we owe it to them to continue investigating how they were affected, spur greater health awareness, and provide them the compensation and care they deserve. I introduced the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act (S. 277) to provide care for those who have endured tremendous pain through no fault of their own and am hopeful that it will pass, but in the meantime we must conduct an open and transparent investigation of the effects of water contamination at the base.

"I am troubled by the United States Marine Corps' (USMC) recent letter to the ATRSDR, which asserted that the ATRSDR's report on Camp Lejeune needed to redact locations of Camp Lejeune's active installation water system infrastructure due to national security concerns. This information has been publically available for several years, and it is unclear why it suddenly became a security threat and had to be removed from the report released by the ATSDR on January 19, 2012.

"I fear that removing this information may jeopardize ongoing and future studies of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, and also worry that this sets a dangerous precedent of withholding information from scientific studies for reasons of national security without adequate legal justification.

"On Friday, I joined a bipartisan group of Senators and Congressmen in sending a letter to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking him to look into the legal soundness of the USMC's request to redact this previously public information. I look forward to receiving his response."

You may read the full text of the letter here:

http://burr.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/JointLetterLejeune.pdf