While all three panelists have notable military and government service records, and they certainly understand the duties of commanding a major defense installation, I am distressed at the absence of either a water quality expert or an environmental engineer. I question the capacity of the panel to thoroughly investigate the decisions not to close the highly-contaminated drinking water wells for a period of five years without such expertise. Further, while much can be learned by interviewing past officials and officers who served at Camp Lejeune, I feel strongly that the effectiveness and integrity of this panel could be greatly compromised if the panel does not interview those who were personally affected by the drinking water contamination. In addition to examining why the Marine Corps chose not to close the contaminated drinking water wells, the panel should also explore why the Marine Corps has chosen not to notify all of those who were exposed to the highly-contaminated water in areas of family base housing. ________________ News Release
United States Marine Corps
Division of Public Affairs
Date: 10 March 2004
Contact: Maj. Nat Fahy
Telephone: (703) 614-4309
Commandant Names 3 Panel Members To Review Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Events HEADQUARTERS MARINE CORPS, Washington D.C. – The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Mike Hagee, today identified the three members who will comprise an independent panel tasked with reviewing the events at Camp Lejeune between 1980 and 1985 that relate to a decision to close several drinking water wells impacted by volatile organic compounds. They are: ¨ The Honorable Ronald C. Packard, Representative of California's 48th District (1983-2001), Panel Chairperson. ¨ General Richard D. Hearney, USMC (Ret.), former Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps (1994-1996) ¨ The Honorable Robert B. Pirie, Jr., former Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Environment) (1994-2000) "Each of the members I have appointed has earned the highest respect of his peers in his respective profession," said General Hagee. "Collectively, they possess a wealth of talent and experience. Individually, each has the integrity to guide them throughout this process." The independent review panel will spend six months reviewing documents and interviewing past and present base officials. This will be done to create a better understanding of the events that led to decisions made during this five-year period. The panel will have free and open access to all relevant information. "We are deeply concerned about the health issues raised by members of our Marine Corps family and are working diligently to ensure that anyone affected during this period is well cared for," said Gen. Hagee. "Marines take care of each other on the battlefield and in garrison and this case is no different. A Marine is a Marine for life." A report of the panel's findings will be submitted to the Commandant six months after the panel commences its review. Further information on the panel's charter and progress will be released as available and appropriate.