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Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune – What You Should Know

Sep 9, 2022 | Camp LeJeune Water Contamination

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Environmentalist taking polluted water sample for examination

Camp Lejeune has been in the news a lot lately thanks to Congress passing the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. But astoundingly, despite the new Act’s passage in both houses of Congress, the issue dates back to 1953-1987. 

Learn the essentials about Camp Lejeune and what you should know if you were stationed there from August 1953 to December 1987.

About the Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps base where experts later found water contamination at dangerously high levels. In 1985, water tests from two wells on the base showed high levels of the following compounds:

  • Benzene
  • Perchloroethylene (PCE)
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Other compounds

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that TCE levels were as high as 1,400 parts per billion, which is 280 times the maximum safe concentration for drinking water.

Those wells supplied water to as many as one million service men and women and their families living on base. The water went to homes, schools, administrative offices, and even the hospital on base.

Although experts tested the water for only five years, modeling showed that the contaminants had been present for decades. One report shows that the water was dangerous as early as August 1953. 

For more than three decades, service men and women and their families drank the contaminated water and were exposed to dangerous levels of these chemicals in their water.

Illnesses Associated With Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

The list of illnesses tied to water contamination at Camp Lejeune is long and encompasses a variety of medical conditions as well as cancers.

  • Aplastic anemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

What Caused the Water Contamination?

The CDC found that the water came from leaking underground storage tanks as well as waste disposal sites. The military used TCE for a variety of use cases. But it also could have originated from PCE, which a local dry cleaner used. 

A Long History of Camp Lejeune Illness Claims

For some victims, they’ve been fighting for justice for nearly 70 years. So why did it take so long for the government to recognize the risks of the contamination and make it a priority to care for the veterans and their families who were impacted? 

Even though the wells were decommissioned in 1985 and the EPA listed the site as a national priority in 1989, the Marine Corps did not establish a review panel for another 15 years.

And it took another five years for the panel to release its findings. The review panel found that the Marine Corps failed to communicate the potential risks to residents. At this point, they released a list of ailments that those exposed to the contaminated water might have suffered.

Veterans and their families then began filing lawsuits in federal court pursuing compensation for damages related to those ailments.

In 2012, Congress passed the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, which provided limited support. Affected veterans and their families could get free health care and pursue reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses for ailments where there was a presumptive service connection between their time at Camp Lejeune and their medical conditions.

Filing a Lawsuit

After decades of pain and suffering, victims are entitled to compensation for their exposure to harmful contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune. If you or a loved one have suffered one of the medical conditions listed above and served or resided at Camp Lejeune from August 1953 to December 1987, Stewart & Stewart can help you pursue compensation for your ailments. 

Schedule a free consultation now to learn more.

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