Yes, the water contamination at Camp Lejeune was an environmental issue. The water supply became unsafe because the environmental regulations and practices at the time did not call for the kind of aggressive response necessary to ensure that the water was safe for drinking, bathing, and other uses.
Thankfully, we can learn and improve our practices and regulations over time. You can now safely drink Camp Lejeune’s water without worrying about the industrial contaminants that once infested the water supply. However, many people were exposed to the contaminated water before the government fixed the problem, and service members and their families developed medical issues.
Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
The National Research Council found two different sources of the water used by Camp Lejeune and nearby military bases were contaminated over more than three decades. An industrial solvent known as perchloroethylene (PCE) was the primary contaminant of the wells serving the Tarawa Terrace system. An off-base dry cleaning business used this chemical and failed to dispose of it safely. This contamination likely started in 1953 and went on for many years.
Meanwhile, the Hadnot Point water supply was also polluted. The main culprit was trichloroethylene (TCE), but benzene, vinyl chloride, and other materials also contributed to the contamination. There were multiple sources responsible for the contamination, which started in the 1980s.
Why This Contamination Was a Serious Environmental Issue
Obviously, a contaminated water supply is an environmental problem, but this situation is dire for several reasons. Multiple entities have reviewed and carefully evaluated Camp Lejeune’s water supply contamination, but we want to focus on one particular report from the United States Marine Corps (USMC).
This report mentioned the multiple reviews of what occurred at Camp Lejeune and provided some important takeaways. It discussed a 2004 panel that found “Camp Lejeune followed general water industry practices in keeping with evolving regulatory requirements.” This panel also concluded that based on the available information at the time, “the decisions made by base officials at the time were appropriate.”
So, even with the regulations then in place, contamination of this scale could still occur for decades. This disaster shows how critical the proper disposal of industrial chemicals and other pollutants is. In addition, it demonstrates how rules and regulations must continuously evolve to protect the environment and people. Unfortunately, many people living and working at Camp Lejeune were exposed to these toxic materials before changes could occur, and some developed health problems as a result.
Health Issues Connected to the Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
Studies have linked various health problems and diseases to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Some of the health risks associated with Camp Lejeune water contamination include:
- Various cancers
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Renal toxicity
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Multiple myeloma
- Neurobehavioral disorders
- Parkinson’s disease
Many of these conditions are serious ailments that can leave a family with expensive medical bills and psychological trauma. As a result, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began to pay out benefits to the families of those affected by the environmental issues at Camp Lejeune.
Benefits for Camp Lejeune Residents
You may qualify for benefits if you lived or worked on the base during the decades when the water was contaminated. These benefits can help cover the healthcare costs related to your Camp Lejeune exposure-related diseases and reimburse you for previous expenses related to your medical issues.
Veterans, reservists, civilian contractors, and National Guardsmen who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune can all apply for benefits. They just need to show that they lived on the base for more than 30 consecutive days between August 1953 and December 1987. Military personnel also cannot have been dishonorably discharged from service.
Family members of military personnel can also apply for benefits. However, they also must show they lived on base (using evidence like utility bills and tax forms) and have documentation that proves their relationship to someone who served at Camp Lejeune during the affected period. Finally, they must have medical records and evidence that they paid to treat one of the previously mentioned health issues.
What a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer Can Do For You
If you or your loved one suffers from a health condition due to this environmental tragedy, a Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney could help you with the application process for the benefits you deserve.
They can link the water contamination at Camp Lejeune to your disease and back it up with the proper documents. They can also see if you qualify for a potential class action lawsuit once the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 passes Congress.
We Can Help You Determine if You Qualify for Benefits
If you believe your family has suffered from the harmful effects of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today. We can tell you if you are eligible for benefits and help you and your family make things right.