Mike Partain has a healthy respect for the military, but doesn’t think highly of actions taken by Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and the government.  

“Essentially doing a Pontius Pilate moment and just washing their hands and walking away,” Partain said.

Spencer, in January, announced the Navy will dismiss all civil claims filed on behalf of people who believe they were made sick by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

“The government was negligent and exposed a million marines and sailors and their families to carcinogens in the drinking water,” Partain explained.

Partain was born in Camp Lejeune while his father served in the Marines.

He later developed breast cancer he believes is connected to cancer-causing chemicals at Camp Lejeune.

Between 1953 and 1987, the military dumped cleaning agents and fuel near wells at Camp Lejeune used for potable water.

Mike is one of the hundreds of thousands of civilians and dependents who lived on the base during decades of contamination.  

He said Spencer’s announcement was contrary to everything the Navy and Marine Corps have said since 2007, which is, the primary concern is for the health, safety and welfare of the Marine family.  

Partain points out this is very bad news for an estimated 20,000 Camp Lejeune victims now living in Florida.

“Kind of like being dropped off in the middle of the desert and handed a shovel saying if you dig deep enough you’ll find water,” Partain added.

Facing billions in potential health care claims and damages, the government executed a legal manuever to protect itself in the Camp Lejeune matter.

“Up until that moment the government was losing in the courts,” Partain stated.

The Justice Department became involved in a lawsuit, siding with a polluter.

It argued that potential victims should only have 10 years from the polluter’s last act to file suit for damages.  

The court agreed.  

That left many like Partain on the outside, with no legal recourse.

“You have the federal government siding with a private polluter to challenge their own laws, to protect themselves for their own negligence and liability,” Partain explained.  

“They found a technicality to get a ‘get out of jail free card’ to walk away from their 
responsibility.” 

Camp Lejeune victims are working with members of Congress to step in and pass legislation to allow civilians their day in court.

In making his announcement in January, Secretary Spencer said it is time to move on.

“Unfortunately to them, moving on means abandoning the Marine family and Navy personnel that were at the base,” Partain added.

If you know of something that you think should be investigated, call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800-338-0808. Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.