From 1953 to 1987, nearly a million civilian workers, military service members, and their families were potentially exposed to toxic, chemicals that can cause cancer and other serious health issues at Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Service members and their families who were stationed at Camp Lejeune were exposed to toxic levels of contaminants in drinking water. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), water from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant was primarily contaminated by the waste disposal practices at an off-base dry-cleaning firm, and the Hadnot Point water treatment plant contaminated supply wells by multiple leaking underground storage tanks, industrial area spills, and waste disposal sites.
The U.S. government didn’t begin testing Camp Lejeune’s drinking water until 1980, and in 1982, they identified VOCs in the water supply. It was another three years before the most contaminated wells were shut down, but the water wasn’t deemed safe until 1987. In 1999, those exposed were finally notified—17 years after the contamination was discovered. The government has yet to provide an explanation for this delay.
Some of the negative health effects of the contamination include:
- Kidney cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Cardiac defects
- Bladder cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- End-stage renal disease
- Parkinson disease
- Aplastic anemia
- Breast Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
- Aplastic Anemia & other Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Cardiac Birth Defects
- Renal Toxicity
New Benefits Are Available
Congress recently passed the PACT act, which allows people who were sickened by contaminated water to receive financial compensation. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act states that anyone living or working on the base between 1952 and 1987 for at least 30 days was exposed to contaminated water and, therefore, is eligible to file a claim against the United States Government.
The PACT Act is the biggest expansion of veterans’ benefits since the Agent Orange Act of 1991. It will allocate a projected $280 billion over the next ten years to treat service members who may have been sickened by exposure to burn pits. This funding will benefit nearly 3.5 million veterans. The PACT Act will also give presumptive benefits status for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers believed to be linked to exposure to the toxic smoke. Additionally, the Act will have a dedicated fund that will not be subject to the annual congressional spending process, ensuring that veterans will get the care they need, uninterrupted by bureaucratic red tape.
The PACT Act is the biggest victory for Camp Lejeune victims yet. In 2019, the Janey Ensminger Act became law, expanding healthcare eligibility to military members who showed evidence that they lived at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period—previous laws placed the burden on victims to prove that their illnesses were caused by the contamination. In 2017, the Obama administration agreed to provide $2 billion in disability benefits to veterans harmed by the contaminated water at the Camp. The new law greatly expands the presumptive conditions that are covered, which include serious health issues such as Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, bladder cancer, liver cancer, kidney, cancer and adult leukemia according to the CDC.
Who Can File a Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Lawsuit?
You may be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit if you or your loved one:
- Was exposed to contaminated drinking water for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987
- Suffered cancer or other health issues related to water contamination at Camp Lejeune
If you or your loved one suffered health problems or cancer from contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, you may be eligible for compensation from a Camp Lejeune lawsuit. Call the mass tort attorneys of Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. at 561.689.8180 for more information. There is no fee to schedule a consultation. We are ready to help you.
SOURCE: VA.gov; ATSDR.cdc.gov