Water is necessary for every living being, and when the water source used for cooking, cleaning, bathing, and drinking becomes contaminated, the effect can be serious.
The water contamination crisis at Camp Lejeune that took place between the 1950s and 1980s—often thought to be the most significant in American history—resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being exposed to contaminated drinking water for nearly three decades.
What is Camp Lejeune and What Happened There?
Camp Lejeune is a military base in North Carolina located on the coast of North Carolina. It was built on the site of a former Navy installation that had been used for World War I and World War II and covered an area of about 14 square miles.
Established in 1942, it is the largest Marine Corps base on the east coast, serving primarily as a training facility.
Named after Major General John Archer Lejeune, who served as the first Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1918 to 1929.
Camp Lejeune was closed between 1985 and 1987 due to water and surrounding soil contamination.
Contaminants were present at levels that exceeded federal safety standards, leading to many illnesses among people who lived or worked on the base during its operation.
Toxic Chemicals & Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) In the Drinking Water at Camp LeJeune
In 1985, it was discovered that drinking water at Camp Lejeune had been contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) and other hazardous chemicals from improper waste disposal practices by a nearby dry cleaning facility.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) report that up to 1,400 parts per billion (μg/L) of TCE alone was detected in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that safe levels of exposure to TCE or perchloroethylene (PCE) were limited to just 5 μg/L in drinking water.
Other chemicals found in the water due to illegal industrial activities include benzene, vinyl chloride, and other toxic compounds.
Since Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune was discovered to have contaminated drinking water, the veterans and civilian workers who had served there and their family members began to experience serious health issues.
People who had spent at least 30 cumulative days—consecutive or non-consecutive—at the base when the water treatment facilities were contaminated had a higher risk of experiencing health problems.
Scientific Evidence Indicates a Link Between Contaminated Water Exposure at Camp Lejeune and Liver Cancer
A recent study of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River found that the contaminated water could cause primary hepatocellular carcinoma or cancer that originates in the liver, according to the National Cancer Institute.
It also causes fatty liver disease, which is similar to the damage caused by alcohol abuse.
Although medical literature from the Mayo Clinic provides evidence that suggests the liver is the only organ that can heal itself, over time, it becomes scarred and cirrhotic, losing its ability to generate new cells.
Epidemiological studies conducted by the CDC and ATSDR suggest that the high contaminants may have impacted as many as one million service members and their families with known health risks determined to have been in the water at Camp LeJeune between the 1950s and 1980s.
Scientific studies pointed to a strong association between those stationed at Camp Lejeune for longer periods and chronic illnesses or other serious health effects.
People with a year or more of exposure generally experienced the most significant impact.
Other health conditions and diseases that have been found to be linked to toxic substances in the water supply at Camp Lejeune include but are not limited to:
- Various types of cancer, including kidney cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, and esophageal cancer
- Congenital disabilities
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Acute myeloid leukemia
- Hepatic steatosis
- Female infertility
Individuals with conditions caused by drinking water contaminated by the above toxic chemicals often need ongoing medical services as they battle long-term illnesses caused by excessive solvent exposure.
Those exposed to these risk factors but have not yet developed diagnosable medical conditions are at a high risk of doing so.
VA Compensation for Liver Cancer Caused by Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
For decades, people suffering from health issues caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejuene had to rely on their health plans or pay out of pocket to receive treatment for their medical conditions.
But in 2012, the United States Congress passed legislation establishing a presumptive service connection between toxic exposure to chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune and specific health conditions like cancer and leukemia.
President Obama signed this law, and veterans became eligible for free or low-cost VA medical care from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
It was not until 2017 that the Obama administration signed legislation securing disability benefits and VA health care for active duty military personnel, civilian employees, National Guard members, and military families.
This totaled $2 billion in funding for the family members of veterans affected by the toxic drinking water wells and solvent exposure at Camp Lejeune.
Who Is Eligible to Sue For Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
Suppose you or a family member were stationed at Camp Lejeune during the qualifying period between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
In that case, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit in a United States District Court for financial restitution for medical expenses, lost wages, disability compensation, attorney fees, and other costs related to your military service at Camp Lejeune.
To be considered eligible, you will need to meet the following criteria:
- Produce military orders or other evidence that indicates you were present at Camp LeJeune
- Show that your service lasted at least 30 days total during the qualification period, whether or not they were consecutive.
- Submit copies of your medical records indicating a doctor or other medical professional has diagnosed you with a qualifying medical condition
This includes children of pregnant women married to United States Marine Corps service members who were exposed to contaminated water in-utero for more than 30 days.
To file, these individuals would need their birth certificate and potentially the marriage license indicating the two were married when the service member was stationed at Camp Lejeune.
Get Help Filing a Claim to Pursue Compensation For Serious Health Problems Caused By Water Contamination
United States Marine Corps soldiers, their families, and other victims of the Camp Lejeune water crisis may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government for health problems caused by prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals.
If you believe you were affected by the water contamination at the base, please click the button below to be redirected to our contact form and discuss your claim with our team today.
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