A Few Good Men, Too Many Chemicals is the nonfiction story of U.S. Marines who were exposed to organic solvents, benzene, radiation, and other carcinogens in drinking water and through dermal contact and inhalation while working without protective clothing and face masks with toxic chemicals. Thousands of veterans and their families were once stationed at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA, an EPA Superfund site and the premier Marine Corps jet fighter base until closed in July 1999.
At Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC, another EPA Superfund site, the base wells were contaminated with organic solvents and benzene from 1953 to 1987 with an estimated one million people exposed to trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene and other toxic chemicals. Legislation to provide health care for Camp Lejeune, an active military installation, was passed in the 112th Congress. Lejeune veterans are eligible for VA health care and disability compensation for 8 of 15 health conditions approved for VA health care coverage. Many veterans have died without ‘connecting the dots’ between their killing diseases and military service.
There is no VA health care and presumptive disability compensation for El Toro veterans. They have to fight the battle for VA benefits one Marine at a time. A Few Good Men, Too Many Chemicals documents the denial of responsibility and the cover-up by Marine Corps leadership of environmental contamination from veterans, their dependents, and the public at El Toro and Camp Lejeune.
At El Toro, these include no usage records on TCE and other organic solvents used on the base for decades; Marine Corps’ denial of ownership for 16 years of a major TCE plume spreading for miles into Orange County until a lawsuit forced the government to accept responsibility; the unexplained loss of all of the original well construction drawings (permanent records) and the loss of over 40 years of water distribution engineering drawings; no records on the dates the base wells were abandoned but several engineering drawings showed the base wells part of the water distribution system after the purchase of a municipal water services contract; unexplained cut-off of pumping records when the base wells were clearly shown as not abandoned in engineering drawings; a radiation contaminated hangar shuddered and sealed until November 2018, years after the Navy reported the hangar free of radiation.
At El Toro, 55-gallon drums of TCE waste were buried on the base for years to hide them from the Marine Corps Inspector General after their use was not authorized; the entire set of water distribution engineering drawings redrawn in 1986, the year after TCE was found in agricultural wells on and off the base and during the period when 10 Camp Lejeune’s wells were found contaminated with TCE and abandoned; an El Toro Marine dead from Agent Orange exposure who never served in Vietnam; the dead Marine transported empty 55-gallon drums to the base’s landfills; other Marines reported use of Agent Orange to spray the fence line to kill vegetation growth. Over 900 acres of the former base transferred to the FAA. After the determination that El Toro was not suitable as a civilian airport, the FAA passed ownership to the FBI.
A Few Good Men, Too Many Chemicals reports the contaminants of concern at El Toro and Lejeune, the health effects of exposure to them as determined by the government and 130 other military bases that EPA identified as Superfund sites—the most toxic environmental sites in the U.S.