The federal government should conduct a cancer incidence study for people exposed to the Camp Lejeune water contamination, North Carolina’s U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan say in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“Such a study would be critically important to help Lejeune veterans and the American people get the best possible scientific understanding of the contamination that occurred at the base,” the letter said. It also was signed by U.S. Rep. John Dingell, R-Mich.
The letter says that the three lawmakers were “dismayed” that acting director of the Agency on Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Tanja Popovic, felt that her agency did not have the authority or expertise to conduct a cancer incidence study.
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“Given the nature and history of this contamination and the disturbing findings of recent studies released by ATSDR, both Congress and the public reasonably expect the government to conduct this type of study and for your department to leverage its resources toward that end,” the letter said.
The letter was dated March 12 and released by Hagan’s office on Wednesday. Popovic resigned on Monday. The ATSDR press office confirmed her resignation, but declined to give any other information about her departure. She had served as acting director since Jan. 26.
The three lawmakers also complained of a “growing lack of trust and cooperation” between ATSDR and the Camp Lejeune Community Assistance Panel, which is the forum for people affected by the pollution to express their concerns.
“The water contamination at Camp Lejeune is likely the largest environmental contamination in the history of this nation,” the letter said. Marines and their families were exposed to cancer-causing chemicals in the water systems over a span of at least three decades.