In 1982, significant water contamination was discovered involving two water treatment facilities serving Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River, North Carolina. An investigation revealed that the contamination of toxic chemicals had been ongoing since 1957. As a result, the government discontinued using the affected wells supplying the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point treatment facilities in February of 1985, though the exposure timeframe was 1957 to 1987.
Per the National Research Council (U.S.) Committee on Contaminated Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune, the primary contaminants were perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE)—known carcinogens. Now, 40 years later, the government is still discovering the long-term effects of the contamination. During the contamination period, those stationed at Camp Lejeune could recover compensation for related illnesses and other damages.
Health Problems Directly Related to the Water Contamination
It has been 65 years since Camp Lejeune’s water contamination began and 40 years since the discovery. During that time, more and more medical issues have shown a relationship to contamination. For example, medical evidence showing some of the factors that affect the development of health problems include:
- Age at the time of contamination
- Status when exposed (pregnant female, infant, in-utero)
- The degree and duration of the exposure
- Overall health at the time of exposure
- Personal habits
- The type of exposure (via drinking, breathing, or dermal contact)
Not everyone exposed to the contaminated water will have reactive health problems. The nature of the contaminants can prolong the period for health issues to arise. New research provides additional links to an expanding list of health risks, including cancers, organ failure, neurological problems, and fertility issues.
Cancer is one of the most well-known health problems connected to the Camp Lejeune water contamination. The contaminants are known carcinogens and have resulted in diagnoses that include:
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Liver Cancer
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
If you or someone you love received a cancer diagnosis after exposure to water contamination at Camp Lejeune, an attorney could seek compensation from those responsible.
Failure of and Damage to Internal Organs
Among the list of health problems is damage to internal organs, causing several related issues:
- Renal toxicity
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Hepatic steatosis
The contaminants have differing effects that may cause difficulty in making an accurate diagnosis.
Researchers have noted many issues with children exposed in-utero or during early childhood. The contamination has also resulted in:
- Female infertility
The water contamination problem at Camp Lejeune ruined the prospects of having children for many young families at prime child-bearing age. Suppose you were affected by fertility problems after a tour of duty at Camp Lejeune. In that case, you may wish to discuss the matter with a law firm to explore your options.
Continuing studies find more health conditions that trace to the original contamination period and service at Camp Lejeune. Neurobehavioral effects, which relate to the coordination of the nervous system and behavior, include symptoms such as:
- Declining memory
- Concentration difficulty
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Motor (movement) difficulty
Early-onset dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, hyperactivity, anxiety, and other impairments are also linked to Camp Lejeune.
Neurological problems are often the first sign of toxic contamination. However, the conditions had labels including autism, ADHD, and general anxiety for many years before the puzzle pieces began to fit together.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Explained
The contamination at Camp Lejeune was caused by a combination of factors, including poor management practices, poor maintenance of equipment, and a lack of oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It has taken years for the EPA to acknowledge what happened at Camp Lejeune, but now they are working hard to clean it up.
In addition to the health risks associated with contaminated water, there are also environmental concerns. Over 1 million gallons of highly toxic wastewater are sitting in open trenches near the base. This waste contains high levels of toxic non-organic compounds of dioxins and PCBs, which can contaminate soil and surface waters.
If you believe you have been exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and would like to learn more about your legal rights, please call us today for a free initial consultation. We offer free consultations to all clients.
What Are the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Health Issues?
The military has spent millions of dollars cleaning up the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune supplied by Hadnot Point. But the problem isn’t just confined to one base. According to the EPA, more than 1 million gallons of toxic waste were released into the ocean from the site between 1969 and 1987. And many residents say they still feel ill after living near the polluted waters.
The following conditions and adverse health effects have been linked to exposure to Camp Lejeune water:
- Congenital disabilities
- Congenital heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Neurological disorders
- Reproductive problems
- Skin diseases
- Thyroid cancer
- Vascular disease
The list goes on and on. Many people living near Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water suffer from these illnesses.
How do I Know if I Have been Exposed to Camp Lejeune Water?
You could have been exposed to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated drinking water supplied at Hadnot Point in several ways. You may have been told if you or your family were stationed here as an Active Duty or National Guard member during your military service. You might have consumed the water, had it come through your plumbing system or even used it as a shower.
If you drank the water, you should know that some studies indicate that children born to mothers who drink tainted water while pregnant are more likely to develop specific congenital disabilities. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, babies whose mothers drank the contaminated water during pregnancy were twice as likely to be born with spina bifida.
You may have experienced other symptoms related to the water contamination. Adverse health effects include:
- Joint pain
- Memory loss
- Stomach pains
- Swelling of feet and legs
- Weight gain
You may notice that your skin looks different. Some people see their skin dryer or flakier than usual. Others experience rashes and sores. If you have questions about how you might be affected by this water contamination, contact our office right away so we can help you understand what happened.
What Were the Contaminants at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base Camp?
The contamination was discovered after a series of tests by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed elevated levels of chemicals, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, perchlorate, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride. Some of these contaminants are known carcinogens, while others may cause liver damage and congenital disabilities.
In addition to the contaminants in the water, there were also high levels of PCBs found in the soil around the base. This chemical contaminant is associated with an increased risk of cancer, reproductive issues, neurological disorders, and other health problems.
According to the EPA, the number of chemicals found in the water at Camp Lejeune wasn’t enough to pose a severe threat to human health. However, the agency found evidence that the chemicals caused long-term harm to wildlife and marine life.
Who Was Responsible for the Camp Lejeune North Carolina Water Pollution?
According to the EPA, the Navy was responsible for monitoring the water quality at Camp Lejeune. The Army Corps of Engineers ensured that the water met all federal standards. At least one employee at Camp Lejeune knew about the problem but failed to report it to his superiors.
The government has paid millions of dollars in settlements to victims of water pollution. According to the Associated Press, the Department of Justice has received over $100 million in claims from individuals who believe they suffered illnesses due to exposure to contaminated water.
Water Contamination Facts
When the contamination was discovered in 1982, an investigation traced the source of the original problem to two main contributors. First, the issue of PCE at the Tarawa Terrace treatment facility began with the incorrect disposal of dry-cleaning solvent.
An off-base dry cleaner, ABC One-Hour Cleaners, dumped the solvent, causing groundwater contamination and poisoning the well supplying the treatment facility. The process began earlier, but the level of contamination became unsafe for humans around 1957.
The TCE contamination at the Hadnot Point facility was more difficult to pinpoint due to multiple origin points. During the investigation, the cause was listed as a combination of on-base chemical spills, leaks from improperly maintained underground storage tanks and improper storage of chemicals. Other contaminants discovered in the water supply included Vinyl chloride, Benzene, and several other toxic compounds.
Wells Closed Down in February 1985
The long-term effects of this contamination are still surfacing. The wells were closed in 1985, but it will take more than three generations to finish the cycle that began in the 1950s.
Suppose you or a family member was at Camp Lejeune for more than 30 days during the contamination period. In that case, you may be eligible for medical compensation. Our firm offers free case reviews if you have questions about the Camp Lejeune water contamination and are interested in exploring your legal options.
Were You Stationed at Camp Lejeune? Can I Receive Disability Benefits?
Military service members who served at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base Camp during this time may be covered under the presumptive service connection legislation. If you had any symptoms while serving there, you could receive benefits even though you didn’t serve for longer than 90 days. Marines, Army, Navy – Active Duty or National Guard members whose military service had them stationed at Camp Lejeune and had toxic exposure are covered.
Having copies of military records, medical records (if you were at the base hospital), and base housing records will help establish your eligibility. Having detailed medical care documentation and expense records will help expedite the process. Also, start to prepare a detailed list of your medical conditions.
If you feel like you might qualify for these benefits, contact us today. We offer free consultations and work hard to get results for our clients.
The Camp Lejeune Act of 2022 Allows You to Seek Compensation
Now that the Camp Lejeune Act of 2022 became law on August 10th, you have two years from that date to file a claim for compensation. Our Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer can investigate what happened to you, find out if you qualify, and seek the financial recovery you deserve.
Our team will go to work for you when you call us for a free consultation. Our attorneys work on a contingency-fee basis. This means you pay no upfront fees or costs. We only get paid if we secure a settlement or court award on your behalf. Do not wait to seek the compensation you need to move forward and get your life back on track.
Complimentary Consultation Offered for More Information
Our team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, is familiar with the water contamination issues at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune. Don’t hesitate to contact our office for a complimentary consultation to discuss your potential financial recovery.