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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reported that between the 1950s and 1980s, two of Camp Lejeune’s water treatment plants – Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point – were contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The toxic materials were released into the groundwater from regular base operations and an off-base dry cleaning business. VOCs are known to cause cancer and many other serious health issues.

A new law, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, will finally let those who got sick pursue compensation.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Chemicals

Military personnel, civilian workers, and families living or working on U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune were exposed to contaminated water for decades.

ATSDR determined that the VOCs found in Camp Lejeune water included:

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

Exposure to VOCs can cause a wide range of deadly health problems, including cancer and birth defects. In some areas, VOC levels were 400 times what safety standards allowed.

Thankfully, help is arriving in the form of a new law called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. Once passed, victims will be able to seek justice and financial compensation if they served on Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987. This is a blessing for U.S. veterans who have been suffering — many of whom are older and now live in nursing homes.

Health Issues From Camp Lejeune Water

People living in the residential areas served by the two contaminated water systems were mainly enlisted families and unmarried service personnel.

Many people exposed were young families – including infants and children. Therefore, Camp Lejeune water contamination health issues affected a tragic range of victims, including women, young children, and infants.

Health issues associated with Camp Lejeune water include:

  • Birth defects: Birth defects reported in those born at Camp Lejeune include low birth weight, neural tube defects, oral cleft defects (like a cleft lip), and other major congenital malformations. Miscarriages and fetal deaths have also been reported.
  • Cancers: Camp Lejeune-related cancers include leukemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma (cancer of plasma cells in the blood), and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of the lymph system).
  • Other conditions: Parkinson’s disease, aplastic anemia (failure to make bone marrow), and other bone-marrow-related health problems have been linked to Camp Lejeune drinking water.

Some of these health issues (particularly Camp Lejeune-related cancers) could take long spans of time to develop and affect victims for the rest of their lives. Older U.S. veterans could turn to long-term care facilities to get care for chronic health problems, only to suffer even more due to nurisng home neglect or abuse.

When Was the Camp Lejeune Water Contaminated?

Camp Lejeune water was contaminated between 1953 and 1987. Based on these dates, the oldest victims of Camp Lejeune could be in their late 80s or beyond today.

However, since babies were born on the base, people as young as 35 could still be dealing with chronic illnesses or disabilities that stem from Camp Lejeune water contamination.

Camp Lejeune Water Risk Factors

Those at the greatest risk of Camp Lejeune water poisoning were the Marines who trained on the base.

Did You Know

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the North Carolina heat, a Marine in training could have consumed up to eight liters of water each day between drinking and bathing.

Military wives also drank, did dishes, and bathed themselves and their children in the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

Pregnant women were also at increased risk, especially between 1972 and 1985, when they were likely to have been exposed to TCE. Developing babies exposed to TCE are at an increased risk of heart problems and immune system disorders.

Additionally, infants and young children who lived on the base between 1956 and 1984 may be at increased risk for cancer.

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

– NBC News

Thankfully, if your loved one in a nursing home became sick, had a miscarriage, or lost a child to cancer after living or working at Camp Lejeune, you may have new legal rights.

Camp Lejeune Water VA Benefits

Since 2012, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has offered benefits to Camp Lejeune victims. However, most people agree these benefits were not enough.

Even worse, most veterans had their claims repeatedly denied or delayed, leaving them with few options to pay for care.

Thanks to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, disabled veterans – and their survivors – may soon be able to file water contamination lawsuits and access financial compensation. This will be an important new resource for veterans in nursing homes and anyone else harmed by Camp Lejeune drinking water.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuits

Anyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days from 1953 to 1987 may be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune water lawsuit.

This eligibility extends to veterans who have since died and may also include parents who lived or worked on the base and tragically lost a child due to an illness related to Camp Lejeune water contamination.

Does My Loved One in a Nursing Home Have Camp Lejeune Legal Options?

If your loved one currently lives in a nursing home and lived or worked at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for at least 30 days as far back as the 1950s, they may finally have legal options. The children of U.S. Marines living in nursing homes might qualify for legal action too. If you are unsure when or where your loved one served, do not worry.

An organization dedicated to this issue, the Camp Lejeune Claims Center, has a team of advocates ready to help you. It’s not too late, no matter how far back exposure was. The organization was founded by the son of a Marine who died from bladder cancer attributed to his time at Camp Lejeune. File a free claim today and learn about your eligibility.

Nursing Home Abuse Support Team

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded to bring justice to those affected by nursing home and elder abuse. Our mission is to educate and empower victims of abuse and their families to take a stand against this unlawful mistreatment. We work to return dignity back to those who have been broken down by nursing home abuse and neglect.

View Sources

NBC News. (2014, February 19). Camp Lejeune study finds Higher cancer death risk. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/camp-lejeune-study-finds-higher-cancer-death-risk-n33991

Rein, L. (2022, June 30). Senators kill sweeping plan to reshape sprawling VA health-care system. The Washington Post. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/06/29/senators-kill-sweeping-plan-reshape-sprawling-va-health-care-system/

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2012, January 29). Veterans Affairs. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/GERIATRICS/pages/State_Veterans_Homes.asp#:~:text=What%20is%20a%20State%20Veterans,to%20homeless%20and%20disabled%20Veterans.