The U.S. Navy is asking government investigators to suppress information concerning the toxic water scandal at the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune, according to a letter obtained Thursday by The Huffington Post.
The letter, signed by Maj. Gen. J.A. Kessler of the Marine Corps and dated Jan. 5, 2012, asks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry to withhold from a forthcoming report details about the whereabouts of water lines, wells, treatment plants and storage tanks on the North Carolina military base -- in the name of national security.
"The Marine Corps understands the need to share information with the scientific community," writes Kessler, the Marines' assistant deputy commandant for installations and logistics. "Prudence requires, however, that information sharing be within the rubric of responsible force protection."
Government watchdogs and environmental advocates said they interpret the letter as further evidence of a Navy effort to evade culpability for what many call the worst and largest drinking water contamination in U.S. history.
Congress assigned the disease registry to trace when, where and at what levels Camp Lejeune's drinking water was tainted with toxic industrial chemicals from the late-1950s to the 1980s. The research is a prerequisite for a series of health studies exploring links between chemical exposures and what appears to be increased levels of disease among former Camp Lejeune residents, including male breast cancer and childhood leukemia.