Retired Marine links cancer to tainted water - - Jackson, MS

Retired Marine links cancer to tainted water

By Cheryl Lasseter - bio | email

CRYSTAL SPRINGS, MS (WLBT) - Jack Farmer of Crystal Springs was a Corporal in the Marine Corps from 1967 to 1971. 

He completed his training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. After a tour overseas, he returned there for eight months. Farmer says he suffers from diabetes from Agent Orange exposure, and he now believes his breast cancer, discovered in 1996, came from contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

"I had a modified radical mastectomy on my right side. I had to go through six months of chemotherapy for it," he said.  "There was nothing said to us about the water being contaminated of anything."

Studies have revealed two wells near the Marine base were tainted with synthetic, organic cleaning solvents from the mid 1960s, possibly into the mid 1980s.

Earlier this month, Marines and military officials testified before Congress about it. Among them, Mike Partain, who was born and raised at Camp Lejeune, and developed several forms of cancer later in life.

"When I heard that, my knees buckled, I started shaking," Partain told NBC News about the moment he learned of the tainted water.

Farmer has kicked the cancer, and he had insurance to help with his medical bills.

"Since we were in the service, we'd like to get service related disability, if we can," he says. 

But a federal law called the Feris Doctrine prevents veterans from suing the Federal Government in cases like Camp Lejeune.

For now, Farmer is shelving his hopes for any real compensation. 

"If our senators and governors are watching this, (I hope they will) help us out by getting some bills passed in DC to help us out with this," he said.

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