Camp Lejeune water contamination had connections to Hollywood
The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C.
A story so compelling it parallels summer blockbusters, the saga of water contamination aboard
Camp Lejeune has had at least three connections to Hollywood.
Military officials sought to delay releasing information about bad water aboard the base in 1998 so as not to coincide with the release of the John Travolta film “A Civil Action,” which depicted a legal battle over the pollution of drinking water in Woburn, Mass.
Those same officials screened “A Civil Action” to get a feel for how to deal with public reaction to the news that contaminated water had affected a million Marines and dependents, according to emails between Defense Department employees that were obtained by The Daily News.
As the water contamination issue reached a boiling point in 2011, well-known environmental advocate Erin Brockovich waded into the fray.
Brockovich became a household name in 2000 when Julia Roberts portrayed her in a film about the fight against a California company that polluted a city’s water supply. She sat on a panel in 2011 that urged a Senate committee to conduct an investigation into a male breast cancer cluster surrounding Lejeune water contamination.
Brockovich also joined 22 national and state organizations in sending a letter to the Senate in support of the bill that would eventually provide medical care for military members and their families exposed to bad water aboard Lejeune.
Retired Marine Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger also signed that letter. His 9-year-old daughter Janey died of leukemia in 1985 after drinking contaminated water aboard base for years.
Ensminger’s decades-long search for answers was the focus of the award-winning documentary “Semper Fi: Always Faithful.” The film was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, shown to members of Congress, aired in primetime on MSNBC and was considered to be on the short list for an Academy Award nomination.