The History Of Camp Lejeune Marred By Toxic Discovery

The history of Camp Lejeune is one that most people would not know unless you were either stationed there while in the military, lived in North Carolina, or were a history buff.  Camp Lejeune is one of the US Marines’ premier bases. It has in recent years gain national notoriety due the discovery of its toxic water supply.

water contamination

Located on New River, south of Jacksonville, Camp Lejeune was established during WWII for both land and amphibious training. In between the coastal ports of both Morehead City and Wilmington, the area was ideal for the Marines’ needs.

The base was named in 1944 for Major General John A. Lejeune, Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1920 to 1929, who was a firm believer in the need for amphibious assault training. Camp Lejeune has been instrumental in Marine readiness since its inception during WWII, including the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the War On Terror, with Marines regularly deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, the base is home to Headquarters & Support Battalion and Weapons Training Battalion, and the TECOM Training Support Center, and 17 other units.


Following WWII, Camp Lejeune expanded exponentially beyond the training to give the Marines and their families everything they needed, including:

• Beaches
• Boating and Swimming
• Childcare
• Commissary and Marine Corps Exchange for shopping
• Dining
• Education,
• Family Support
• Financial services from credit unions and banks
• Fitness Centers
• Hunting And Fishing
• Library
• Theaters

More people meant more building and expansion and is now over 153,000 acres, including 14 miles of beach on the Atlantic Ocean. The base is now the largest on the eastern seaboard and includes other campus locations, including MCAS New River, Stone Bay, Courthouse Bay, Camp Geiger, Camp Johnson, and the Greater Sandy Run Training Area.

Water Contamination

The base expansion brought problems that plagued residents for over 30 years.

In 1953, a nearby off-base dry cleaner used PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene) and allowed the chemical to go into storm drains. This contaminated the water supply in the Tarawa Terrace treatment plant that supplied drinking water to some of the family housing facilities. Upon discovery in the early 1980s, levels of PCE were found to far exceed the current EPA maximum contaminant level of 5 ppb. The Tarawa Terrace water was contaminated from November 1957-February 1987. Wells with the highest contamination was closed in February 1985.

Concurrently, the Hadnot Point water treatment plant was contaminated primarily by TCE, or trichloroethylene. The water also contained PCE and benzene and TCE degradation products trans-1,2-DCE (t-1,2-dichloroethylene) and vinyl chloride. Contamination of these water tanks was found to be from more industrial sources: waste disposal sites, spills, and underground storage tanks that leaked. All the contaminated wells were closed by 1987.

After millions of Marines, their families, and civilian workers became seriously ill after their time at Camp Lejeune, they are now able to request compensation for their illnesses and losses and those of their family members.

Camp Lejeune Claim? Contact The Herren Law Firm Today

Until recently, only veterans could request help through the VA for their medical conditions. After the signing of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, family members and civilian workers can now file a claim for compensation due to the harm they suffered from the contaminated water.

If you or someone you know became ill after working or being stationed at Camp Lejeune, contact us immediately for help filing your claim.

We’ve helped over 4,000 people, and we can help you as well. Contact us today by calling (713) 682-8194 or using our online contact form our consultation is free, and you won’t owe us a fee until we win your case.

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