An overview of Camp Lejeune’s compensation for water contamination.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 will allow victims of water contamination at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to file civil lawsuits in federal court to receive compensation for their injuries. This legislation is part of the broader Honoring our PACT Act, which is expected to be signed by President Biden soon. Exposure to these dangerous chemicals is linked to serious health hazards, including:
-Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and ALS
Filing a civil lawsuit is one way for victims to seek compensation, but they may also be able to file a claim with the Veterans Administration (VA). The VA has a special benefits program for veterans and their families who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. For more information on this program, you can visit the VA’s website or speak to a VA representative.
When did the Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune Come to Light?
Since the early 1980s, the Camp Lejeune military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina has been dealing with water contamination. In 1982, two water supply systems at the base were found to contain high levels of the industrial solvents trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE). In some areas, the chemicals were at levels 400 times greater than what safety standards allow, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Subsequent testing revealed the water systems were also contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen, and vinyl chloride (VC), a toxic substance that can form when TCE and PCE
The water treatment plants that supplied water to the two affected systems were the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point plants, which began operating in 1952 and 1943, respectively. These plants serviced:
Barracks for unmarried service personnel
Base administrative offices
The Hadnot Point water system also served:
The base hospital
An industrial area
Full-time housing on the Holcomb Boulevard water system.
Do you know that from 1953 to 1987, more than a million Marines and their family members who lived on Camp Lejeune, and civilians who worked on base, were exposed to these hazardous chemicals in the water supply? Exposure to TCE, PCE, VC, and benzene is linked to numerous serious and life-threatening health hazards .
The entire Tarawa Terrace water-treatment plant was shuttered in 1987. In 1989, the camp was listed as an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site. The agency oversees the cleanup of some of the nation’s most contaminated land.
You may not be aware that these hazardous chemicals can cause a host of health problems, including cancer, liver damage, kidney damage, immune system disorders, fertility problems, and developmental disabilities. If you or a loved one served at Camp Lejeune or worked on base during the relevant time period, it is important to monitor your health closely. You may also be entitled to benefits from the Veterans Affairs (VA) if you develop certain diseases or conditions that are linked to the water contamination.
What was in the water that you were drinking at Camp Lejune?
The water that was being drank at Camp Lejune contained toxic chemicals, including:
Trichloroethylene (TCE) – A liquid organic chemical used primarily to make refrigerants and other hydrofluorocarbons, degreasing solvent for metal equipment, and dry cleaning. It is also used in some household products such as cleaning supplies, paint removers, and carpet cleaners.
Perchloroethylene (PCE) – An organic chemical widely used in dry cleaning activities. It’s also used as a degreaser and in some consumer products such as shoe polish and typewriter correction fluid.
Benzene – A natural part of crude oil and gasoline. Benzene is one of the most widely used chemicals in the U.S. It’s used to make plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber lubricants, dyes, detergents, and pesticides.
Vinyl chloride (VC) – A manufactured substance that can be formed when TCE and PCE are broken down. VC is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is used in manufacturing various plastic products.
These toxic chemicals can cause a variety of health problems, including:
Immune system damage
Nervous system damage
In 2014, the ATSDR issued a position statement on the water at Camp Lejeune, finding that past exposures from the 1950s through February 1985 to trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, and other contaminants in the drinking water at the Camp Lejeune likely increased the risk of cancers (kidney, multiple myeloma, leukemias, and others), adverse birth outcomes, and other adverse health effects in residents (including infants and children), civilian workers, Marines, and Naval personnel at Camp Lejeune.
The ATSDR also found that these exposures could have contributed to a number of other health conditions, including liver and neurological damage, immune system disorders, and reproductive problems.
What Are the Connected Medical Issues?
Exposure to TCE, PCE, VC, or benzene is linked to several health conditions, including:
Multiple myeloma and other myelodysplastic syndromes
Aplastic anemia and other bone marrow conditions
Birth defects and birth injury
These are just some of the illnesses and symptoms that have been linked to exposure to these chemicals. If you have been exposed to TCE, PCE, VC, or benzene, it is important to see a doctor and get tested for these conditions.
What did the U.S. Government Know about Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
The U.S. government knew about the water contamination at Camp Lejeune in the 1970s, but did nothing to protect Marines or their families from the chemical exposure. The EPA called Camp Lejeune a “major polluter” due to the military’s practice of dumping oil and industrial wastewater in storm drains and burying potentially radioactive materials. The dangers of organic solvents to human health were well known by then. A regulation on the books at Camp Lejeune dating back to 1974 shows the military knew just how dangerous these chemicals were and that improper dumping could contaminate drinking water.
What am I Entitled to if Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Damaged Me?
The following damages can be recovered for those exposed and injured by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Disability benefits
- Loss of companionship, consortium, enjoyment of life, and earning capacity
- Permanent disability
- Other compensatory damages
What Documents are Required to Pursue a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Case?
Documents providing evidence of residence at Camp Lejeune, including military service records indicating dates and locations served, medical records and diagnoses, and travel records. Health care information and records on disability benefits or VA compensation benefits may also be necessary.
What is the Time Limit on Filing a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Suit?
So, it’s essential to act quickly if you want to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit. All injury claims that occurred before the passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 will have two years from the passing of the act to file their case.