Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Since 1953, Marines, their families, and civilian workers who spent time at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, shared a secret that no one discussed. People became seriously ill for no apparent reason. Pregnant women living in the base’s housing had high rates of miscarriages.

victims of water contamination at camp le jeune

Until 1982, there was no explanation. Marines and their families were not told until 1985.

Even with the removal of the toxic water and contaminants, serious illnesses continued to plague people who spent time at Camp Lejeune. Many became ill many years after they left the Marine Corps’s most celebrated installation.

Some veterans who suffered illnesses post-service did receive medical treatment from the VA, but civilian workers and military dependents did not. Those non-military residents, suffered for many years, were unable to work, and died prematurely without assistance or acknowledgment from the US government or the USMC. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act changed that in 2022.

Contamination in the Water

Beginning in 1953, dry cleaners located near the base began spilling and disposing of their cleaning chemicals by dumping them in storm drains. These chemicals leaked into the water treatment facility at Tarawa Terrace, one of the facilities that provided drinking water to base housing. The primary chemical from this source was PCE or Perchloroethylene. 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 to February 1987. Wells with the highest contamination was closed in February 1985.

Additional contamination came from other sources and made its way into Hadnot Point, which also supplied drinking water to military housing. Hadnot Point’s water was contaminated by:

• Chemical spills from industrial sites around the base were not properly contained and cleaned
• Drums located in storage lots and dumps
• Leaking underground storage tanks

The continued seepage compounded the contaminant levels. Besides PCE, the water was also contaminated with volatile organic compounds, or VOC:

• Benzene, a base chemical used to make other chemicals to make plastics, resins, nylon, and synthetic fibers.
• Vinyl Chloride, manufactured to create PVC for a wide variety of plastic products
• Trichloroethylene (TCE), a metal cleaning solvent
• Benzene and toluene, chemicals found in fuel such as gasoline
• Methylene chloride, a chemical solvent used in paint removal and labs

These chemicals are all known human carcinogens in quantities far above any amounts considered “safe.” Additional information is available from The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The website includes a section for Camp Lejeune’s water contamination, containing information including reports.

Sickness From The Water

More than a million people were unknowingly exposed to these toxic chemicals. They became seriously ill both while at Camp Lejeune or after they left, sometimes many years later. The most common include:

• Autoimmune diseases, including Scleroderma
• Birth defects
• Cancers of various types
• Cardiac defects
• Cirrhosis of the liver
• Kidney problems, including end-stage renal disease
• Miscarriage and fetal deaths from exposure during pregnancy (in utero)
• Neurobehavioral effects
• Neurological effects
• Parkinson’s Disease

No one considered these illnesses and diseases attributable to the water contamination at the time. It wasn’t until many years later that the connection was made, and the VA began to recognize them as presumptive conditions.

Camp Lejeune Claim? Contact The Herren Law Firm Today

For more than 30 years, the Herren Law Firm has helped veterans and other disabled people with their benefit claims and appeals. We have extensive experience dealing with governmental agencies and the claims that are filed with them.

TIME SENSITIVE:  If you or someone you know was at Camp Lejeune during this period (between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987) and later developed a serious illness, you may be able to file a lawsuit to receive compensation. This is different from a claim for disability against the VA and is not limited to active-duty military and veterans. Eligibility extends to civilian workers and dependents of the military – those who were exposed to this water contamination.

The deadline for filing a lawsuit is within two years from when the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was approved in August of 2022, so it’s vital to start your claim immediately with Camp Lejeune Water Contamination attorney, William Herren. At Herren Law, we are prepared to help you file a 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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