Water Contamination

Contaminated water at the Camp Lejeune military base has been linked to adverse health effects.
Sanjay Parekh, via Flickr

Retired Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger says the Department of Veterans Affairs has done too little to help the more than one million servicemembers and their families exposed to tap water tainted by industrial dumping at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987.

Power plant in Goldsboro, NC.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dukeenergy/11441208065/

  

Private utilities charge their customers a small monthly fee to compensate for the corporate income tax they pay.

The North Carolina General Assembly cut that tax in its latest session, and the state Utilities Commission originally ordered a smaller fee to reflect the changes. But the commission recently reversed that, saying companies could go back to charging at the higher rate and keep the extra money.

Their decision led to a rare, strongly-worded dissent from the commissioners who voted against it.

The hydraulic fracturing (fracking) water cycle.
Environmental Protection Agency

Big news came out this week about fracking: Duke scientists have found that natural gas wells used in fracking caused contamination in eight drinking water wells in Texas and Pennsylvania.

Photo: A drilling site in northeastern Louisiana.
Daniel Foster via Flickr

A Duke University study exonerates hydraulic fracturing from contaminating drinking water at sites in Pennsylvania and Texas. Instead, researchers blame faulty shale gas wells for leaking methane into the water, sometimes making it flammable.

A picture of the US Supreme Court building.
Daderot / Wikipedia

The US Supreme Court has upheld North Carolina's limits on how long people have to file pollution-related lawsuits.

The case involved pollution connected with a CTS Corp. manufacturing plant in Asheville. But the decision undercut families trying to sue over groundwater pollution at Camp Lejeune.

Flickr/Pam Rutter

For more than three decades, hundreds of thousands of people were likely exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, a Marine base in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Godi Godar (right) with a man from the Lac Tumba region, DRC
Godi Godar

Godi Godar lives and works in Durham, NC. He's a mechanic there. That's kind of amazing since Godar had never seen a car until he was in his 20s.

Godi grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). There was no running water or electricity in his town, Ikoko Bonginda. (Ikoko is in the Congolese rainforest, several hundred miles upriver from the DRC's capital, Kinshasa.)

Godi recalls seeing electricity across the lake, where the missionaries were.

"I remember saying, 'Wow, look at the lights there!' It was a trip."

Contaminated water at the Camp Lejeune military base has been linked to adverse health effects.
Sanjay Parekh, via Flickr

North Carolina's U.S. senators say they're concerned about slow answers in the Camp Lejeune water contamination case.   Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Kay Hagan have sent a letter to federal Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  They want to know why an investigative agency under the HHS umbrella seems to be dragging its feet.  

Creative Commons

Algae may seem harmless, but toxic algae blooms can be a real problem in water supplies used by people.

They can kill wildlife in the water and be dangerous to humans. Host Frank Stasio talks with Hans Paerl, professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City.

Albemarle Sound, NC
NASA / PD-USGOV

Federal cuts mean the state will stop monitoring water quality at several dozen swimming sites along coastal rivers and sounds in the coming year. The Environmental Protection Agency cut $22,000 from a grant for the testing.

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries uses a combination of state and federal funds to test 240 swimming areas for certain bacteria.

Director Louis Daniel says the division has notified county heath and summer camp directors that it will stop testing water quality at 41 swimming areas in coastal rivers and sounds.

President Obama
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

Earlier this week, President Obama signed a law to provide health care to thousands of Marine veterans and their families who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987. Retired Marine Jerry Ensminger was one of them. His daughter died of leukemia he believes was caused by the contamination. For fifteen years, Ensminger has led the fight to get help for sick veterans and their families. And he says it’s not over yet.

North Carolina lawmakers are hailing the signing of a bill today that will grant health care to marines and their families who drank toxic tap water at Camp Lejune from 1957 to 1987. An award-winning documentary chronicles the efforts of former U.S. Marine Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger who lost his daughter, Janey, to a rare form of childhood leukemia as a result of the exposure. Congressman Brad Miller says the chemicals found in the water are known carcinogens that cause a host of illnesses and conditions that include male breast and female infertility.

A bill that helps military families harmed over 30 years by water at Camp Lejeune will become law today.

An environmental group wants North Carolina's coastal water to be cleaner. The Natural Resources Defense Council's new report on water quality says about three percent of the samples at twelve beaches exceeded bacteria levels set by the EPA. That's better than the national average of eight percent. Jon Devine is an attorney with the NRDC. He says the biggest cause of pollution on the coast is storm water runoff, but there are solutions.

NC Division of Water Quality
NC Division of Water Quality

North Carolina environmental officials are formulating a strategy to reduce mercury levels in the state's waterways. The divisions of air and water quality are holding public meetings this week and next to share their findings and solicit ideas. Susan Massengale with the Division of Water Quality says they've just completed a study finding that 98% of the mercury in the state's water is coming from the air.

A U.S. Senate committee has heard testimony about the Marine Corps' attempt to delete information from a government report on contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.