Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
Camp Lejeune is a United States Marine Corps base located in North Carolina. Established in 1941, it has served as a training ground for Marines preparing for deployments all over the world.
Between 1953 and 1987, the Camp Lejeune water supplies were contaminated with a range of toxic substances. As a result, over one million people who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune were exposed and put at a higher risk for dangerous health effects such as cancer and birth injury.
If you, a family member, or a loved one were present at Camp Lejeune during this time period and have since suffered health effects, you may be eligible to file a water contamination lawsuit.
These lawsuits seek to hold the government and any other potential negligent parties accountable for the contamination of Camp Lejeune drinking water supplies, and they can provide much-needed compensation for victims and their families. If you believe you may have a claim, contact an experienced attorney today to learn more about your legal rights.
Discovery of Toxic Substances in Camp Lejeune Water
For years, the residents of Camp Lejeune drank, cooked with, and bathed in water that was contaminated with a host of dangerous chemicals. The water used by residents and families living on the base was contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which have been linked to a number of serious health conditions.
The sources of the contamination are varied, but one the most likely culprit is a dry cleaning facility that operated on the base for many years. Since the facility closed, the levels of VOCs in drinking water have decreased dramatically. However, the damage has already been done, and the residents of Camp Lejeune are now facing a range of health problems.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Studies of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The presence of VOCs and other toxic chemicals in the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune was first discovered in 1982. Since then, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has been investigating the potential health effects of exposure to the water.
The ATSDR has found scientific and medical evidence that the chemicals can cause a number of serious health problems, including cancer.
The health effects of exposure to the contaminated water are especially serious for infants and children, who are more susceptible to the toxic effects of the chemicals. It is incredibly important for people who were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to be aware of the potential health risks.
Chemicals Found in Water Sources at Camp Lejeune
A variety of dangerous chemicals were found in drinking water that supplied base housing and buildings at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River. MCAS New River is located just minutes away from Camp Lejeune.
The potential sources of this water contamination include certain businesses and industrial operations, waste disposal sites, leakage from underground storage tanks,
Tetrachloroethylene, also known as “perchloroethylene” or “PERC”, is a powerful industrial solvent. It’s used in a variety of applications, including dry-cleaning fabrics, degreasing metal machinery, and manufacturing other chemicals. PERC is also a common ingredient in paint strippers, spot cleaners, and adhesives.
Although it’s an effective cleaner, PERC poses a serious health risk to humans. Exposure to high levels of PERC can lead to bladder cancer, liver cancer, and kidney cancer. In addition, PERC exposure has been linked to birth defects and other pediatric health risks.
PERC contamination at Camp Lejeune can be traced to Tarawa Terrace Treatment Plant and Hadnot Point Treatment Plant.
Trichloroethylene, or TCE, is a chemical solvent commonly used as a degreaser for metal machinery. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous to human health. When ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin, TCE can potentially lead to kidney cancer, non-hodgkin lymphoma, and other cancers. In addition, exposure to TCE has been linked to cardiac effects such as arrhythmias and heart failure.
TCE at Camp Lejeune can be traced to Hadnot Point Treatment Plant.
Vinyl chloride is a synthetic compound used in the production of many consumer products, from food containers and water pipes to cosmetics and cleaning products. Despite its widespread use, vinyl chloride has been linked to a range of serious health problems, including liver cancer, brain cancer, and other cancers, as well as certain neurobehavioral effects. Studies have also found that exposure to vinyl chloride can damage the nervous system, cause birth defects, and lead to fertility problems.
Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet smell. It is used as a solvent in the chemical industry and is present in crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen, and exposure to high levels of benzene can cause leukemia and other blood cancers.
The ATSDR has conducted an assessment of the health effects of benzene, and their findings indicate that consuming water contaminated with benzene is linked to leukemias and non-hodgkin lymphoma. Additionally, they found that benzene exposure may also be linked to multiple myeloma. These findings are concerning, and further research is needed to better understand the health risks associated with Benzene exposure.
Health Issues related to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Though studies are ongoing, the evidence thus far suggests that those who were exposed to Camp Lejeune water contamination are at an increased risk for these health problems:
- Bladder Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Stomach Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other bone marrow conditions
- Parkinson’s disease
- Renal toxicity
- Birth defects and birth injury
- Neurobehavioral effects
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced a list of presumptive conditions related to water contamination. The VA will now allow members of the armed services who were stationed at Camp Lejeune during the relevant time period to seek benefits for these conditions.
The announcement comes after years of research and advocacy by former military personnel and their families. While the VA’s decision is a welcome development, it is important to note that disability benefits secured through Veterans Affairs are available to only former military personnel, and not family members.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act is a new law that is seeking to receive senate approval.
If passed, the law would allow individuals who were exposed, active duty military service members to toxic water at the base between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 to file a claim in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina and recover damages for any harm they suffered as a result of the exposure. The new law would override current North Carolina state law that bars actions such as these.
The bill would also allow anyone who worked at or lived on the base during that time period to file a claim, regardless of whether they have been diagnosed with any specific illness or disease. This is a significant step forward for those affected by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune, and it will provide much-needed compensation for those who have been suffering for years without any recourse.
Previous Attempts by the Federal Government to Provide Benefits to those affected by Water Contamination
In 2012, Congress passed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act (H.R. 1627) in order to provide benefits to those who had been exposed to tainted water.
H.R. 1627 granted health care benefits and disability benefits to veterans and their family members who met certain standards, as well as VA compensation benefits for veterans.
While the bill has helped many people, some have argued that it does not do enough to address the long-term health effects of the exposure. In particular, some families have been left without any financial assistance if they do not meet the eligibility requirements for health care benefits or disability benefits. Moreover, the VA compensation benefits are only available to veterans, not to their family members. As a result, some families are still struggling to get by after being exposed to toxic chemicals in drinking water.
In 2017, Congress passed an additional statute that granted more benefits and expanded upon the conditions associated with exposure. The amended statute associates even more presumptive conditions with contaminated water exposure.
Who Can File a Claim for Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?
The Veterans Administration release and the Camp Lejeune Justice Act state that anybody who resided at the marine corps base for 30 days may be eligible to file a claim. This includes active duty and former military personnel, family members living on base, non-military staff, families of deceased, and even in-utero victims who were not yet born when their mother was residing at Camp Lejeune.
It’s important to note that if you were dishonorably discharged, you may not be eligible for disability benefits or disability compensation.
The release and act also notes that if you have a service-connected disability, you may be able to receive free health care and prescriptions through the VA. If you think you may be eligible to file, it’s important to file a claim as soon as possible. There are strict deadlines for qualifying service members to file.
Who is Liable for my Injuries?
The liable parties may include the United States Government, other governmental or regulatory agencies, businesses that may have contributed to contaminating water supplies, and any other group that may have contributed to an injury or diagnosis.
Hiring a Lawyer, Gathering Evidence, and Assessing Damages
Hiring legal representation that understands the attorney client relationship and can effectively fight for rightful monetary compensation is essential in a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination case.
An attorney will help you gather evidence and add up your total damages.
Evidence is important in any personal injury or mass tort case, and the water contamination at Camp Lejeune is no different.
Evidence for your or case may include:
- Documents proving residence at Camp Lejeune
- Military service records indicating dates and locations
- Medical records and diagnoses of certain diseases
- Medical bills
- Travel records
- Health care information
- Veterans administration records
- Records on disability benefits or disability compensation
Damages in a Camp Lejeune water contamination case may include:
- Medical bills and costs
- Lost wages or lost earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life and other intangible factors
- Permanent disability and life-altering medical conditions
TruLaw: Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Attorneys
If you, a loved one, or a family member was exposed to toxic chemicals in water at Camp Lejeune, consider contacting TruLaw for a free consultation and to discuss your legal options.