MCAS Beaufort creates maps of Laurel Bay sites being tested

Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, S.C.

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – Testing is still going on at the Laurel Bay housing development on MCAS Beaufort, as health concerns from the military families who live there continue to be raised.

A map put out by the Marine Corps shows the groundwater at 100 of the 110 home sites is being checked.

The rest of the homes, marked in green, show sites that no further testing is necessary.

Marine Corps officials say there is still “no” information linking Laurel Bay to Cancer and health issues.

The base has said all 1251 oil tanks that had been buried at Laurel Bay are now gone.

Navy health officials are expected to finish a comprehensive study sometime this spring.laurel-bay-map-1

Green on Map shows sites that don't need to be tested according to the Marine Corps, Blue are still testing groundwater
Green on Map shows sites that don’t need to be tested according to the Marine Corps, Blue are still testing groundwater


Your child is getting sick and you don’t know why. But you think it could be because of where you live.

That’s what some families from MCAS Beaufort are facing right now -and asking the marine corps for answers..

Oil tanks that once kept Marine Corps families warm, now may be responsible for making them sick.

That’s what some families are saying about the Laurel Bay housing complex on the MCAS Beaufort base.

Those tanks have been taken out of the ground. That work was finished according to base officials in 2015. But what they may have left behind has folks asking a lot of questions, and led to a lot of worry.

“The youngest of my three started showing symptoms after we moved in. at the time we didn’t know those symptoms were connected to leukemia.”

Lots of people, lots of questions at a informational meeting last week on MCAS Beaufort.

The Marine Corps just released the video of that meeting, and base commander Colonel Peter Buck’s words about what’s going on. To ease familes fears about cancer being caused by their community.

“I made a promise to them, i make a promise to you and I make a promise to your families in Laurel Bay, said Colonel Peter Buck, MCAS Beaufort Commanding Officer. “That promise is a will act once i get some answers and take the appropriate steps,”

Steps which right now include an extensive study with DHEC, about the soil and water under the Laurel Bay housing complex.

It stems from oil tanks which in the 1950’s heated the homes at Laurel Bay. Storage tanks were put inside those homes.

In the 1980’s the base switched to geothermal heating, and in 2007 the Marine Corps started the process of removing the tanks. In 2015, the Corps says all 1251 tanks were removed.

Buck says that DHEC was consulted before taking out those tanks, and the same level of scrutiny went into that removal as gas station tank removal.

That’s the same year Colonel Buck says two families came to him expressing concern over a possible “cancer cluster”, involving children from MCAS who lived at Laurel Bay. The chemicals left behind could be making children sick.

34 houses which may have had a link. only 2 which MCAS are going back for more testing. One parent even took to youtube to express her anger and worry.

“Our daughter Katie has cancer. And actually theIr have been eight children diagnosed with cancer over the past few years that also lived in the Laurel Bay Housing community,” said Amanda Whatley.

Amanda Whatley’s video has now been watched more than 40,000 times across the area, the nation and the globe.

During the 18 minute video she shows a picture of her daughter Katie, talks about Katie’s leukemia diagnosis back in 2015, and blames oil tanks once buried under the Laurel Bay housing community for possible benzene contamination.

Colonel Buck says MCAS is investigating because of the claims, but he is not concerned yet.

“I live in Laurel Bay with my wife and children.,” said Colonel Buck. “I feel safe living there.”

But other parents weren’t so confident. Either because of questions about the Corps delay in studying the issue.

“You said there were two families that came forward, why do you only talk about two families?”
“Those were the two that came forward”
“There were seven. one of them was mine. I just wanted to know they weren’t mentioned.”

“We were never aware until someone knocked on my door telling me the levels on my house. We were never aware of any of thise. And now of course we are very scared with two premature babies at home. and one that is symptomatic.”

Or just because that’s where their child live now.

“I have two sons 1 and 3 and they play in the dirt daily, and the one year old sometimes he eats the dirt.’

“My youngest of the three started showing symptoms about a month after we got here. We didnt know those sympton were signs of leukemia. We are in the process of getting him tested now. We were never aware until someone knocked on my door telling me the levels on my house. We were never aware of any of thise. And now of cousre we are very scared with two premature babies at home. and one that is symptomatic. Is theer any way we are able to leave because as of last year our levels were 2.2. I have a family member that works for osha and he says levels working with me 1.8 ppm in a 24 hour period… and not more than an 8 year old period. we are exposed to a 2.2. What are you going to do?”

Colonel Buck promises the study is ongoing and surpasses basic EPA guidelines. The Corps plans to test the water and soil, do epidemiological and environmental testing to find out what, if anything, may be going on.

“There is nothing right now that says anything actionable is going on  that i can do anything with. There is no smoking gun, there is no smoke in the gun,” says Col. Buck.

The Marine Corps says the started a study on Laurel Bay after two families came to them with complaints about cancer stricken children.

But parents at the town hall says they’ve heard of as many as 24 families affected.

Colonel Buck promises answers when “all” the data is collected.

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