The Camp Lejeune facility was established in the early 20th century and was once home to 60,000 active-duty Marines and their families. It has since been closed down and turned into a military training facility.
This article will examine the water contamination that led to this closure and what you should do if you were affected.
Table of Contents
What Is Camp Lejeune?
Camp Lejeune is a military base in North Carolina. It’s located on the coast of North Carolina and was established in 1940. The base is home to the 2nd Marine Division and has been used by U.S. Marines as training grounds since World War II, when it was used as an embarkation point for troops heading overseas during World War II and the Vietnam conflicts.
Other military branches also used Camp Lejeune, a training facility for Army Reserve soldiers during Desert Storm operations in 1990-91, and an evacuation center for civilians during Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
North Carolina has been used for military purposes for several decades now. In fact, an article from the U.S. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs says that the military has a huge economic impact of $66 billion annually on the North Carolina GDP. So, this segment is significant for the nation.
Why Was the Water Contaminated?
The water contamination resulted from a fuel tank spill between 1953 and 1987, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
Per the report by ATSDR, the components found in the water included the following:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride
- Freon compounds
- Radiological contaminants like uranium and radium-226
But there’s some good news. An article from CBS News from November 2022 stated that a new law might soon allow veterans and their families exposed to contaminated water at the camp to sue the US government. This new law, Camp Lejeune Justice Act, was included in the Honoring Our PACT Act and passed in 2022.
Hence, if you have faced any problems or health concerns due to exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, you can file a lawsuit for compensation. Hire a law firm to get help throughout the process.
Most law firms offer a free consultation to help determine if you have a case that can be won. One such company offering a free consultation is TorHoerman Law. You can find such companies and look at reviews on their website to learn about the law firm’s services. For example, TorHoerman Law has received a 4.9-star rating based on over 135 reviews.
Health Risks Associated with the Contamination
Several health risks are associated with exposure to the chemicals found in the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The most likely diseases are cancers, neurological disorders, reproductive system diseases, and birth defects. The CDC estimates that over 7.2 million people get ill due to their exposure to these waterborne diseases annually.
If you or someone in your family served at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987 and have experienced any of these symptoms since then, you must report them immediately so they can be evaluated by an expert who understands this type of illness.
- Bladder cancer: This type of cancer is most often found in the bladder, where it can cause swelling or bleeding.
- Kidney cancer: When you have kidney cancer, your kidneys don’t work as well as they should. This can further lead to other health problems, such as high blood pressure, anemia, gout, etc.
- Adult leukemia is a disease that causes your bone marrow to make abnormal white blood cells that cannot fight infection or help with other tasks in your body.
- Liver cancer: Cancerous tumors form on the liver’s tissue, making it hard for the organ to process nutrients and toxins from food into waste products that leave through urine or stool.
Many other such cancers are associated with the contaminated water supply at Camp Lejeune. So if you were exposed but haven’t seen any health concerns yet, it is advised to get regular checkups to see if there are consequences of drinking contaminated water.
The most common neurological diseases associated with Camp Lejeune water contamination include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Lou Gehrig’s.
Other neurological conditions linked to TCE in drinking water are ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), MND (motor neuron disease), and multiple sclerosis.
Reproductive System Diseases
As you can see, the long-term effects of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune have not been fully studied. However, some evidence links the contamination to an increased risk of reproductive system diseases. These include:
- Infertility and miscarriage
- Birth defects such as neural tube defects, cleft lip/palate, heart defects, and limb deficiencies
- Low birth weight and infant mortality
Legal Action Taken and Compensation Available
Legal action is available if you were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and have been diagnosed with one of the illnesses listed in this article. The federal government has provided a form for victims to fill out. This form can be found online and asks for basic information about the victim and their illness.
Suppose you believe that Camp Lejeune’s water contamination caused your illness. In that case, you must complete this form and submit it as soon as possible so that attorneys can investigate your case further.
Efforts to Address the Contamination
The government has worked to clean up the water, provide health care and medical monitoring for veterans and their families, and compensate those exposed to contaminated water. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also provides counseling and disability compensation related to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated drinking water.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with the military to prevent future contamination at military bases across the United States by improving storage methods for chemicals used on base grounds so they do not leak into groundwater supplies.
Water contamination is just one thing. Authorities must work on various other issues to ensure military personnel can serve their country without worrying about anything else. For example, the number of suicides at military bases has increased significantly. According to a USA Today article, over 21 troops died by suicide at Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg in North Carolina in 2020.
Hopefully, you now better understand the Camp Lejeune water contamination and how it affected people. If you or someone you know has been affected by this tragedy, we encourage you to contact an attorney today.