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Water contamination at Camp Lejeune exposed veterans and civilians to toxic chemical compounds linked to increased risk of cancers and other serious health conditions. If you were exposed, you may be entitled to compensation.
Lived or Worked at Camp Lejeune?
According to a report from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Camp Lejeune was a site of toxic water contamination in the United States beginning in the early 1950s. For years, ATSDR has been studying the health effects of exposure to the toxins present in the Camp Lejeune water supply.
Camp Lejeune was established as a Marine base in 1942. Forty years later, in 1982, Camp Lejeune included eight water treatment plants responsible for treating and providing the water used throughout the facility. That year, the U.S. Marine Corps discovered that two of the eight water treatment plants' water supplies contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
VOCs are typical ingredients in various products, including paint, ink, cleaning supplies, refrigerants, fuel, and hydraulic fluids. VOCs can become sources of contamination in groundwater.
Although the most highly contaminated wells were removed from service in 1985, the shutdown came too late. Nearly one million military personnel, staff members, and families were exposed to the toxic compounds for years.
From the 1980s until now, the ATSDR continues to investigate the possible health risks connected to the toxins found in the well waters of Camp Lejeune – health risks that may not become evident until years later.
Daily activities such as drinking water, brushing teeth, or taking a shower exposed military personnel, their families, and civilian contractors to the toxins in the water supply.
Camp Lejeune Water Contaminants
The ATSDR has identified four specific types of volatile organic compounds that were present in the contaminated wells at Camp Lejeune, namely:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene (PCE or PERC)
- Vinyl Chloride
Types of Medical Issues Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Toxins
According to the ATSDR, certain exposures to the contaminated water at the Camp Lejeune facility during the relevant time frame, 1953 to 1987, may be associated with an increased risk to develop various severe medical diseases and disorders, including:
- Various cancers, including bladder, breast, esophageal, kidney, and lung cancers, as well as leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,
- Reproductive problems like infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects, including spina bifida,
- Blood disorders like blood cancers or myelodysplastic syndromes; and
- Other conditions include hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease), renal toxicity, central nervous system disorders, and neurobehavioral disorders.
Help from the Honoring Our PACT Act
Since the conditions at Camp Lejeune have come to light, several laws have been enacted to help surviving veterans and their families struggling with the effects of toxic water exposure.
In 2012, President Obama signed the Janey Ensminger Act. The Act required the ATSDR Administrator to investigate the connection between water contamination at Camp Lejeune and the health effects experienced by those who lived or worked on the base.
U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8) introduced the Camp Lejeune Justice Act in March 2021, a version of which President Biden signed into law on August 10, 2022, as part of the larger Honoring our PACT Act. The Act broadens access to care for veterans exposed to toxins in several service settings. The Act also gives injured veterans and their families another avenue to seek compensation for the harm they have suffered from toxic water exposure.
The attorneys at Sommers Schwartz are dedicated to helping veterans and their families obtain the support and compensation they deserve.
We will answer your questions, give you the necessary information, and support you through each legal step. Let us fight your fight so you can focus on your recovery. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.