Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: End the stalling on Lejeune claims

The Marine Corps has run out of excuses for refusing to take responsibility for the health of thousands of veterans and their families affected by polluted water at Camp Lejeune. A new and long-awaited federal study released this week shows that personnel stationed at the base during the years its water supply was polluted died of cancer far more frequently than those who lived at a base without tainted water. The findings call out for the Marines to finally give this betrayal of America's military families the attention it deserves and for Congress to provide those who suffered health problems full benefits.

The study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry compared 8,964 deaths of people who lived at the North Carolina base from 1975 to 1985 to the deaths during the same period of those stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, where the drinking water supply was never contaminated. As the Tampa Bay Times' William R. Levesque reported Thursday, the findings show that death rates attributed to all cancers at Camp Lejeune were 10 percent higher than at Pendleton. For some cancers, the death rate was alarmingly higher. Among them: kidney cancer (35 percent higher), liver cancer (42 percent), esophageal cancer (43 percent) and multiple myeloma (68 percent).

Members of a panel advising the federal agency said the study provides persuasive evidence linking the sickened people to the polluted water. The report also noted that the rate of kidney cancer and other related deaths at Camp Lejeune was higher than that in the U.S. population. That was unexpected, given that the base's makeup was younger and, as a whole, healthier than the population nationwide.

The findings are troubling — but they are only a snapshot of the total picture. The federal agency now needs to conduct a broader study that examines the incidence of cancer among those veterans still living. With up to 1 million people — including nearly 20,000 Floridians — having lived and worked at Camp Lejeune from the 1950s to the 1980s, when its drinking water supply was contaminated with chemicals, it stands to reason that huge numbers need ongoing medical care. Only a fuller study that examines how many might have lived with cancer or other diseases will give the government the baseline it needs to serve these veterans and their families.

The Marines Corps should not continue to drag out the process, and Sen. Bill Nelson should keep pushing the issue as well. These military families have been left in limbo for too long, and time is not on the side of this aging population. These veterans do not deserve to be mistreated twice by being denied access to care for health problems caused in service to the nation.

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Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 4 minutes ago

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18