Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Camp Lejeune is a U.S. Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville, North Carolina that had two contaminated water supply systems from 1953 to 1987. During that time, nearly 1 million people were exposed to toxic chemicals that can cause cancer, congenital disabilities (known as birth defects), and other serious health conditions.

Due to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, anyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days during this timeframe will be entitled to compensation. Even if you were injured decades ago or have already filed a disability claim, it’s not too late for you to be included in a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit.

Overview of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

In the early 1980s, two of Camp Lejeune’s eight water treatment plants – Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point – were contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

According to federal reports, Camp Lejeune’s water may have been contaminated by these harmful chemicals for as long as 60 years. The toxic drinking water endangered Marine and Navy personnel, civilian workers, and their families.

Since the late 1980s, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has been evaluating the health risks from Camp Lejeune’s water.

According to ATSDR’s research and numerous other studies, people who lived or worked on the base during this time are at risk for developing cancer, congenital disorders (also known as birth defects), and other serious health conditions.

With people sick and dying from unexplainable conditions, victims and their loved ones have been left wondering what happened at Camp Lejeune.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination: What Happened?

The short answer is that the federal government, the United States military, and a privately owned dry cleaner contaminated the groundwater near Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point with dangerous chemicals.

The toxic chemicals seeped into the groundwater from the following sources:

  • Burn dump
  • Drum dump
  • The former fire training area
  • Fuel-tank sludge area
  • Industrial area
  • Industrial fly-ash dump
  • Liquid-disposal area
  • Off-base dry cleaner
  • Open storage pit
  • Original base dump
  • Transformer storage lot

How the Contaminated Water Was Mixed Into the Clean Water Supply

The two water-supply wells collected the contaminated groundwater and pumped it into a treatment plant. Since the military cycled the eight wells at Camp Lejeune (alternating from one well to another), only a few would pump water at any given time.

Whenever the two contaminated wells were in operation, they pumped the toxic water into the treatment plants, mixing it with clean water from the uncontaminated wells before being delivered to the base.

Because of this cycling, the concentrations of contamination varied during the decades-long period. Alarmingly, ATSDR’s research found that both short- and long-term exposure to the chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s water increase the risk of health conditions.

Therefore, those at greatest risk are people who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987.

Who Are the Victims of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

Sadly, those living in the residential areas served by these two water systems were mainly enlisted families and unmarried service personnel. Many of the nearly 1 million people exposed were military veterans and their young families – including infants and children – and those of reproductive age.

Likely victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination may include:

  • Marine and Navy personnel
  • Civilian workers
  • Their family members, including pregnant women, infants, and young children

Can Camp Lejeune Victims Take Legal Action?

For decades, most harmed by Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water have had no legal options.

The federal government is usually protected from being sued by veterans for injuries related to their military service. As a result, victims were referred to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to seek disability benefits, which were often insufficient. Many were even denied claims for their injuries.

Thankfully, the time may have finally come for the victims of Camp Lejeune to get justice. The New Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is working its way through Congress, allowing victims to pursue financial compensation through a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, no matter how far back their exposure occurred.

Camp Lejeune Water: Years Involved

According to ATSDR, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated from the 1950s through the 1980s. Anyone who lived or worked on the base during this time may have been exposed.

Since families lived on the base, this included pregnant women, infants, and children. Sadly, anyone born up until the mid-1980s could be at risk if they or their parents were exposed to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water.

Fortunately, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act could allow eligible victims to pursue a claim, no matter how long ago they were exposed.

Camp Lejeune Water Risk Factors

Camp Lejeune water contamination risk factors are unfortunately not easy to predict. Marines at Camp Lejeune from 1975 to 1985 may be at higher risk due to the water they drink during training.

“A marine in training under warm weather conditions could drink between one and two quarts of water per hour. Combining this ingestion rate with dermal and inhalation exposures from showering twice a day, a marine could consume a liter-equivalent of up to eight liters of drinking water per day.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Another important risk factor is how the toxic water exposure occurred, including:

  • Drinking the water
  • Bathing or coming into contact with the water through the skin
  • Inhaling the water’s chemicals while bathing or dishwashing
  • Swimming in the water during training exercises or recreation

Sadly, some studies suggest pregnant women and young children were at the highest risk for illness.

If you or a loved one has experienced health issues or illnesses that could be linked to Camp Lejeune, speak with a Camp Lejeune water lawyer now to discuss your risk factors and legal options.

Chemicals in the Contaminated Camp Lejeune Water

Camp Lejeune water contamination is believed to be caused by VOCs released into the groundwater and pumped into the base through the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point wells.

ATSDR determined that the Camp Lejeune water wells contained:

  • Benzene
  • Dichloroethylene (DCE)
  • Tetrachloroethylene – also known as perchloroethylene (PCE)
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Other contaminants

Camp Lejeune Water Chemicals: Tarawa Terrace

The primary contaminant believed to be present at Tarawa Terrace is PCE. People who lived or worked at Tarawa Terrace between 1957 and 1985 were exposed to water with PCE concentrations well above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL).

Camp Lejeune Water Chemicals: Hadnot Point

The origin of Hadnot Point’s contamination is believed more complicated since there were multiple sources and chemicals involved. It is believed that TCE is the main contaminant, but other chemicals were also present, especially from 1953 to 1985. Hadnot Point’s water supply is thought to have been far more contaminated than Tarawa Terrace’s.

Even if you’re unsure where you or your loved one was living or working at Camp Lejeune, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our skilled Camp Lejeune water attorneys can listen to your story and may be able to help you pursue compensation for injuries.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Symptoms

While the specific symptoms vary depending on the illness, behavioral changes and cognitive impairment are among the potential early warning signs indicating exposure to contaminated Camp Lejeune water.

Additional Camp Lejeune water contamination symptoms may include:

  • Confusion
  • Cramping
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Lack of coordination
  • Light sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Numbness in limbs
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Vomiting

Talking with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms is important, as they can be signs of more serious conditions.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Illnesses

Research shows that people who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune when the water was contaminated are at greater risk for developing several health conditions.

Camp Lejeune water contamination illnesses may include:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Birth defects
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cardiac defects
  • Cervical cancer
  • Cholera
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphomas
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Scleroderma
  • Skin infections (like dermatitis or impetigo)

Additionally, babies whose mothers were exposed to Camp Lejeune water during pregnancy were at a greater risk for certain birth defects, leukemia, and neural tube defects.

“Marines have complained they and their children suffered cancer, including breast cancer and fatal leukemia, because of the contamination.” – NBC News

If you or a loved one developed a health condition after living or working at Camp Lejeune, new laws may soon allow you to file a legal claim. Find out if you’re eligible today.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Deaths

According to reports released by the CDC, people stationed at Camp Lejeune when the water was actively contaminated are more likely to die from certain cancers or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“The study found elevated (risks) at Camp Lejeune for several causes of death, including cancers of the kidney, liver, esophagus, cervix, multiple myeloma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and ALS.” – CDC

One study compared 150,000 Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1975 to 1985 with 150,000 Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton in California during that same time.

Camp Lejeune Marines were found to have the following increased risks:

  • Roughly 10% greater risk of dying from cancer
  • 35% higher risk of kidney cancer
  • 42% higher risk of liver cancer
  • 47% higher risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Double the risk of ALS if exposed to vinyl chloride

If you or a loved one contracted a deadly disease after being exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, contact the Camp Lejeune Claims Center without delay.

Camp Lejeune Water Survivors

Camp Lejeune water survivors have been fighting for decades to get justice. After the tireless efforts of victims, family members, and advocates, the time may finally be here.

Even if you have tried in the past to seek justice for health conditions or your loved one’s death, it is not too late. New laws may soon make you eligible to file a Camp Lejeune claim.

Camp Lejeune Water Veterans Benefits

Camp Lejeune water veterans benefits have been available through the VA for some time.

To get benefits, veterans and their family members must show that they:

  • Lived on the base for 30+ days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, or have a dependent relationship with a veteran who served at Camp Lejeune during this time
  • Paid health care expenses for a covered condition within the designated date ranges

While VA benefits have provided some relief to those affected, many feel it was not enough. Others have faced denials, locking them out of receiving the benefits they desperately need.

With new laws, veterans and their loved ones may be eligible for financial compensation, even if they were denied in the past or are currently receiving benefits.

Contact us now to discuss what legal options may now be available to you or your family.

Camp Lejeune Water Legal Claims

If you or a loved one lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987, recent laws may soon entitle you to financial compensation. Even if the exposure happened decades ago, pursuing justice is not too late.

Contact the Camp Lejeune Claims Center now. We can connect you with qualified lawyers with the experience and resources required to successfully file Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.

Our Camp Lejeune attorneys don’t charge upfront or out-of-pocket fees – they only get paid if your case results in compensation. To learn more, get a free, no-obligation consultation.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination FAQs

What caused Camp Lejeune water contamination?

Camp Lejeune water contamination was caused by two water-supply wells that collected contaminated groundwater and pumped it into the treatment plant that supplied water to the base.

When was Camp Lejeune water contaminated?

The water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated from 1953 through 1987.

What was in the Camp Lejeune water?

A federal public health agency called the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reported that Camp Lejeune’s water was contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), dichloroethylene (DCE), vinyl chloride, benzene, and other toxic substances, many of which are carcinogenic (cancer-causing).

How can I file a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim?

It’s not too late to file a claim for Camp Lejeune water contamination. New laws may allow victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination to file a claim even if they were denied in the past, and even if they were exposed 50 or 60 years ago. However, new deadlines will come into play, so it’s important to contact a Camp Lejeune water lawyer as soon as possible.

The Camp Lejeune Claims Center exists to help military veterans harmed by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to get the financial compensation they deserve. We're ready to help you — at no out-of-pocket cost to you or your family.

8 References
  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (2017, January). Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/pha/MarineCorpsBaseCampLejeune/CampLejeune_Water_Factsheet_508.pdf

  2. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (2014, January 16). Chemicals involved. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/chem_descriptions.html

  3. Bove, F., Ruckart, P., Maslia, M., & Larson, T. (2014, February 19). Evaluation of mortality among Marines and Navy personnel exposed to contaminated drinking water at USMC Base Camp Lejeune: A retrospective cohort study – environmental health. Retrieved June 14, 2022, from https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-069X-13-10

  4. Congress.gov. (2021). H.R.2192 – Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2192/text?r=215&s=1

  5. National Research Council (US) Committee on Contaminated Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune. (2009). Contaminated water supplies at Camp Lejeune: Assessing potential health effects. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books

  6. NBC News. (2014, February 19). Camp Lejeune study finds higher cancer death risk. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/camp-lejeune-study-finds-higher-cancer-death-risk-n33991

  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2013, December 09). Camp Lejeune: Past water contamination. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/

  8. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, March 07). Camp Lejeune water contamination health issues. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/camp-lejeune-water-contamination/

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