LAKELAND | They have been called "Poisoned Patriots," and no one is sure exactly how many of them are out there.
Their numbers include former Marines, their wives, children and civilian employees at Camp Lejeune, the sprawling United States Marine Corps base in Jacksonville, N.C. They drank, showered and bathed in water contaminated by chemicals with unpronounceable names, chemicals that have been linked to cancers.
A government agency has determined that water supplies at Camp Lejeune were tainted with dangerous compounds between 1957 and 1987. Following orders from Congress, the Marine Corps has taken steps to inform the hundreds of thousands potentially affected.
But many ex-Marines and former Camp Lejeune residents are far from satisfied. Activists, including former Winter Haven resident Mike Partain, have sifted through reams of documents, challenging minute details of the Marine Corps’ version of events at Camp Lejeune.
They say the contamination was far more widespread than the Marine Corps first admitted. They accuse the leadership at Camp Lejeune of ignoring repeated warnings about hazardous drinking water for years before it took action. They charge Marine Corps leaders with deliberately withholding crucial information and misleading investigators.