A recent Congressional hearing that has probed drinking water problems at Camp Lejeune,N.C., has brought dramatic attention to our drinking water infrastructure. As many as 1 million people were exposed to contaminated water dating back to the 1970s at Camp Lejeune, according to a document from a federal health agency.

The problem resulted from the chemicals TCE (a degreasing solvent) and PCE (a dry-cleaning agent).The government describes them as probable carcinogens and believes that the water was contaminated by a dry cleaner adjacent to Camp Lejeune and by industrial activities on the base.As reported Aug. 15 by ABC News,“At least 850 former residents of the base have filed administrative claims, seeking nearly $4 billion, for exposure to the industrial solvents.”The issue is whether exposure to the solvents possibly caused birth defects and leukemia in babies.

With our litigious society in the United States, it is hard to imagine that the claims from this will stop at $4 billon.The magnitude of this problem, and particularly how far back in time this is being investigated, should be an eye-opener for our local officials in addressing their water and wastewater infrastructure problems.

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