Thursday, February 17, 2011

EPA’s Superfund Websites Can Save Veterans’ Lives

EPA’s Superfund database lists Chemicals of Concerns (COCs) and their health effects, valuable information to medical care providers.
February 14, 2011 posted by Robert O'Dowd

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Thousands of veterans and their dependents lived and worked on military installations that are now listed as EPA Superfund sites.

Internet links to Superfund websites can save lives

Former MCAS El Toro was once a proud Marine aviation base; today it is a demolished wreck. The soil and groundwater was terribly polluted over the years and many have paid the ultimate price over it.

Veterans of this base in Southern California are spread all over the United States. There’s no central databank to tap into for the names and the current addresses of those who served at El Toro and other Superfund sites.

Superfund is the environmental program established to address hazardous waste sites. It is also the name of the fund established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (CERCLA statute, CERCLA overview). CERCLA was passed into law in the wake of the discovery of toxic waste dumps such as Love Canal and Times Beach in the 1970s, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Veterans of military installations currently on the National Priority List (EPA Superfund) need to know the contaminants of concern (COC) found on these sites and the health effects of exposure to receive proper medical treatment.

COC’s are the chemical substances that the EPA has determined pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment. These are the substances that are addressed by cleanup actions at the site.

According to EPA, “Identifying COCs is a process where the EPA identifies people and ecological resources that could be exposed to contamination found at the site, determines the amount and type of contaminants present, and identifies the possible negative human health or ecological effects that could result from contact with the contaminants.”

Exposure to COC’s can cause serious medical conditions, including cancer and death. Veterans with who were stationed on an EPA Superfund installation need to share this information with their medical care provider. This is not about collecting VA disability compensation, but about helping veterans “connect the dots of serious illness” to military service and giving information to their health care providers that could save their lives.

No one in their right mind would voluntarily live and work on a Superfund site. Veterans are not provided the choice of military assignments. Many of the installations on the NPL were constructed during WW II and experienced decades of environmental contamination.

DOD has spent and continues to spend millions in the remediation of military installations on the Superfund list. Nothing has been spent on health care screening and monitoring of veterans by either DOD or the VA. Many veterans learn for the first time of their exposure to a COC after diagnosis with cancer. Too often the diagnosis is late and the cancer now in stage 4 is a death sentence.

With exception of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, DOD has no efforts to contact veterans who served on Superfund sites. Congress required the Navy and Marine Corps to notify those who served at Camp Lejeune from 1957 to 1987 of the contaminated water wells on the base.

EPA lists 130 military installations as Superfund sites. There is no legal requirement to notify the veterans of the remaining 129 military installations of the COCs they may have been exposed to and their health effects. This is not a mission impossible. It can be done. EPA lists the COCs and the ATSDR has identified the health effects of many of them.

IMPORTANT: READ MORE and check for Superfund sites at:

Thanks to Veterans Today -

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