Lubbock veteran's cancer linked to contaminated water - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock


Lubbock veteran believes his cancer is linked to contaminated water at military base

By Katie Bauer  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A Lubbock veteran who believes his cancer could be linked to contamination at a North Carolina Marine base testifies before congress Thursday morning.

The Department of the Navy notified service members and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987 about presence of toxic chemicals in their drinking water during that time.

Back in 1997 a scientific study found that it was unlikely the water could cause cancer, but one of the key toxins present in the water was not included in the study.

Now, a Lubbock man blames his cancer on the Camp Lejeune contamination and lawmakers asked him to take his case to  Congress.

This story starts more then 50 years ago, but its one Lubbock resident Jim Watters didn't realize he was a part of until recently.

"It wasn't just military, it was marines, it was navy, women and children, dependents of people living on the base so it affected quite a few people," said Watters.

Watters is a former naval officer who worked on base at Camp Lejeune at the naval hospital between 1977 and 1979.

In 2007 he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, just before getting some important mail.

"In 2008 I received a letter from the Marine Corps informing me that I had been exposed to the chemicals at Camp Lejeune hazardous chemicals in the drinking water," said Watters.

As many as a million people are estimated to have been exposed to water contaminated with trichloroethylene or TCE and other compounds.

"The Veteran's Administration denied my claim twice and it was only because I work at the school of medicine here at Tech, that I was able to get some support from toxicologist who work with this and one of scientist who wrote letters of support," said Watters.

Their studies found that there was a strong likely hood Watter's cancer was linked to TCE.

Watters says he is concerned for other veterans who have had their claims denied because they don't have resources like a school of medicine.

"There are families out there who have lost all their children, children born lived aboard the base, and two to three children gone," said Watters.

He says just one of his medications cost $76,000 a year.

I'm one of the few people who has been successful with a Veteran's Administration Disability claim for my kidney cancer.

That's why he has been asked to testify at Thursday's hearing. He hopes to get more information out in the open to help those affected.

"What the marines have done here, what the marines and the Department of the Navy have done is they have abandoned and betrayed their wounded, women and children included, and left them to suffer and die," said Watters.

A web site called "The Few, the Proud, and the Forgotten" is dedicated to provide information about the toxic water of Camp Lejeune.

The site was started by a veteran who lived on base with his family. His daughter died of leukemia in 1985. 

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