A variety of chemicals contaminated the drinking water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the primary contaminants were:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Vinyl chloride
Officials found other dangerous materials in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune at that time. Some people exposed to these chemicals eventually developed a variety of medical issues and ailments. If you or a family member suffered exposure that resulted in a qualifying illness, a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer can fight for compensation and justice.
How Drinking Water Contamination Occurred at Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune had two different water systems, both of which suffered contamination by industrial chemicals. The first was predominantly contaminated with perchloroethylene (PCE), a chemical used by an off-base dry cleaning business. Due to spills and improper waste disposal, PCE seeped into the groundwater. VA dates the earliest instance of contamination to 1953, and the contamination of the water at Camp Lejeune continued through the late 1980s.
Another water system was contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) and a variety of other chemicals. Contamination may have come from multiple sources beginning in the 1980s.
Whatever the sources were and whichever specific chemicals contaminated the water supply, the end result was the same. The drinking water at Camp Lejeune became unsafe to consume, and its contamination led to the development of health issues for some of the former residents.
Medical Issues Linked to the Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) linked the chemical contaminants to a variety of medical issues and serious health problems. The contaminated drinking water could be to blame for:
- Adult leukemia
- Cancer of the bladder, kidney, liver, and lungs
- Breast cancer
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Renal toxicity
- Parkinson’s disease
- Female infertility
According to the ATSDR, as many as one million military and civilian staff and their families may have been exposed to this contaminated water over the span of a few decades.
Why Contamination Continued for So Long at Camp Lejeune
Unfortunately, this problem was not noticed or addressed for years. Other military bases contained contaminated water throughout the 1970s, but the government did not address the issues at Camp Lejeune until later. Comprehensive testing of the water only began in 1980 or so.
As a result, many people suffered harm, including serious and deadly illnesses, due to the contaminants found in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. To address this injustice, VA provides disability benefits to qualifying veterans and their family members. Victims also have a right to legal representation as they pursue compensation.
Seeking Benefits as a Former Camp Lejeune Resident
Fortunately, there is a way for former residents of Camp Lejeune to get the care that they need. Veterans, reservists, and guardsmen who lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 consecutive or nonconsecutive days between 1953 and 1987 can be eligible for disability benefits from VA. They just cannot have a dishonorable discharge on their record.
People who qualify for benefits can get their medical needs paid for and could also receive compensation for their past healthcare costs. They just need to show that they have developed health problems due to exposure to chemicals like TCE and PCE.
Military family members can also apply for benefits and have the costs of their care covered. They need to provide evidence of their relationship with a member of the military who was on active duty at Camp Lejeune, along with evidence that they were living at Camp Lejeune at some point between 1953 and 1987. They also need to gather medical records that show that they have developed one of the health issues mentioned above.
How a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Attorney Can Help
If you want to apply for benefits, whether as a member of the military or as a member of a military family, the government is essentially putting the burden of proof on you. You have to gather together a lot of documents, submit forms, and navigate the claims process.
This can be tough if you are trying to recover from an illness or caring for a sick family member of your own. An environmental justice lawyer can handle your case and take the weight off your shoulders.
Get Help With Your Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Case
If you believe that you or a family member have suffered harm due to the contamination of the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, we can explore your legal options. You deserve to rest and focus on your health right now; we can handle the claims process.
Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC to learn more about how an attorney can help you file for the benefits that you deserve. Call us as soon as possible.