Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Editorials

Hold Marine Corps' feet to fire over tainted water

The story of how the Marine Corps exposed its service members and their families to dangerous water at Camp Lejeune continues to evolve — for the worse. The Tampa Bay Times' William R. Levesque recently reported that the Corps' regulations required water to be tested for contaminants at the North Carolina base far earlier than the Marines had suggested was required by federal law. The revelation comes only weeks after the contaminated water was found to have affected up to tens of thousands of additional Marines and their families. The Obama administration and Congress should hold the Corps to account for finding and caring for those whose health may be at risk.

The Corps has long defended its failure to address the tainted drinking water at Camp Lejeune by arguing that federal law did not regulate the cancer-causing pollutants until years after the contamination was discovered. But the Corps' own regulations required water testing at Camp Lejeune and other Marine bases starting in 1963, decades before the federal government brought about regulatory limits for such chemicals as trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene and benzene. The Corps told the Times it can find no record that the Marines performed this test at Camp Lejeune, though a spokesman said it was unclear whether the screenings were not conducted or the records were lost.

The best-case scenario is that the Corps has put an additional tens of thousands of veterans and their families in an uncertain position regarding whether they face serious health risks. This looks like another opportunity the Marines missed to catch a public health disaster in the making. Today, more than 185,000 people who drank, cooked and bathed in the polluted water there from 1953 to 1987 have signed up for a health registry. Some 16,000 of them are Floridians, a total second only to North Carolina. About 750,000 Marines and family members may have been exposed to the contaminated water, which some medical experts have linked to birth defects, leukemia and other cancers. The Corps needs to do everything possible to reach out and care for these military families.

Obama's nominee for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, pledged during his Senate confirmation hearing last week to provide Marine families with answers about the contamination, saying "there should never, ever" be a question about whether America would protect the health of the men and women who answer the call to defend the country. The Marine Corps needs to echo that straightforward concern. It can start by establishing whether the tests ever occurred or not.

Comments
Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17