Scientists tell the story of America’s worst drinking water contamination through thousands of federal documents, including records from North Carolina, North Carolina, Marine Corps, and other records. These documents were created during the 1980 investigation by the EPA into Camp Lejeune’s water. In 1989, the EPA designated Camp Lejeune as a Superfund Site. Camp Lejeune is a vital base for the Marines. It was built on the North Carolina Atlantic coast, in 1941. It is one of the most important and busiest bases in the Corps.
As with other military bases, Lejeune’s environmental stewardship was often poor. The EPA deemed Lejeune a major pollutant in the 1970s. The Corps claims that it didn’t dispose of its wastes in its early years following current practices. According to records, Marines dumped oil into storm drains and in industrial wastewater. Potentially radioactive substances were also dumped, including the remains from dogs used in testing. Daycare was provided in an ex-malaria control shop. The camp’s daycare was where pesticides were kept and mixed.
Camp Lejeune started testing the water supply for its rifle range in 1981 to see if any chemicals had escaped from hazardous waste dumps into local water wells. These tests were performed on a different water system than the one Neal warned about. The water supply to the rifle range well water well contained the same compounds as those found elsewhere in Camp Lejeune. Three months later, engineers who monitor the water supply to Camp Lejeune ordered that one rifle range water source be closed.
The Corps did not respond to questions about why it shut down one well using unregulated chemicals while keeping others open. Camp Lejeune employed Grainger Laboratories in Raleigh, N.C., to test the water. Chemists were shocked by the first lab test. The first lab test showed that synthetic organic cleaner solvents had contaminated water in large living areas at the base. This was a shock to chemists. Mike Hargett was coowner of Grainger. Hargett and a base chemicalist encouraged a Marine officer who is responsible for water quality issues to investigate the problem and fix it. Hargett said that they wouldn’t recognize the danger. They didn’t respond.”
The EPA deemed Lejeune a major pollutant in the 1970s. The Corps claims that it didn’t dispose of its wastes in its early years following current practices. According to records, Marines dumped oil into storm drains and in industrial wastewater. Potentially radioactive substances were also dumped, including the remains from dogs used in testing. Daycare was provided in an ex-malaria control shop. The camp’s daycare contained pesticide storage and mixing.
PCE was the primary contaminant of the Tarawa Terrace water wells. This chemical compound was used by a dry-cleaner off-base. Because of spillages and poor disposal practices, groundwater was contaminated with PCE. This source started to affect the wells in 1953 when dry-cleaning began. The Tarawa Terrace system was another source of contamination that had a less serious impact on the water supply. The Hadnot Point water supply was more complex and had multiple sources of contamination.
TCE has been the main contaminant of these wells since the 1980s. TCE contamination can have come from many sources, such as spills at industrial sites and leaks from underground storage tank tanks. The contamination could also have been caused by drums found at dumps or storage lot dumps. The Hadnot Point water treatment facility was built in 1943. However, it is not known when contamination occurred. Both systems were contaminated in the period November 1984 to May 1985. In 1987, the entire Tarawa Terrace water treatment facility was closed.
The U.S. Marine Corps offered information in July 2010 to answer questions about Camp LeJeune’s water contamination history. The booklet did not correctly report benzene. It was found in tap water in 1984. The actual level was 380 parts per Million, which is significantly higher than the amount they reported. In the final contractor’s report, the benzene level wasn’t mentioned. It was later discovered that the contractor’s final report was inaccurate.
Only after the bases had been sealed, was the contaminated water released. This allowed for the growth of bacteria and mold that led to toxicity and death. Even though this was prevented, the legal system has yet to catch up. Individuals can sue the government to seek damages under the Camp LeJeune Justice Act. Victims have the right of legal action against officials. The Act does NOT grant immunity to the government from lawsuits.
The military failed to recognize warning signs and delayed testing until the mid-’80s. After the contamination created a major health crisis for generations, the military did not take corrective action until 1985. VOCs have been shown to cause kidney cancer in both men and women at Camp Lejeune. Researchers also report leukemias, and cardiac defects.
The EPA set a limit of 5 parts to billion for benzene water. A well measured 380 parts/billion in 1980 at Camp Lejeune’s Tarawa Terrace. Although these high levels of benzene do not pose a danger to humans, they can still be harmful. The Marine Corps has denied these findings. Recent legislation may provide justice for the affected.
Camp LeJeune Water Justice (CLJA), was created to compensate Camp Lejeune residents who have suffered from contaminated drinking water. This law covers personal injury lawsuits as well as wrongful death claims that involve Camp Lejeune water contamination. CLJA requires that claimants have been exposed between 1953 and 1987 to contaminated water and have suffered from health problems related to this exposure.
Numerous victims of Camp Lejeune’s water contamination filed civil lawsuits. 850 plaintiffs were consolidated in multi-district litigation. Statute of repose was used to dismiss the cases. This is a statute that prevents lawsuits being filed more than 10 years after the injury occurred. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act has precedent. North Carolina law is especially restrictive. Plaintiffs’ claims that were filed after the deadline for filing a statute of repose claim were dismissed.
Numerous people have been diagnosed as having cancer or other diseases after drinking Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. The U.S. Senate will soon pass a new federal law that will make it easier to file claims for compensation and provide financial assistance to victims of water contamination. Recent research has shown that over 900 men died of cancer from exposure to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water.
Because of the water pollution that had impacted thousands of people, Camp Lejeune was deemed a major polluter by the EPA in 1970. It is clear that the military should have been aware of the health risks of organic solvents. This can be seen in the way they dumped oil, industrial wastewater and possibly radioactive materials into groundwater. Camp Lejeune was regulated by the EPA in 1974. This shows that the military knew about the potential health risks associated with these chemicals and how improperly dumping them can pollute drinking waters.
This summer, the Senate will vote on the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The bill, if passed, will allow thousands to claim compensation for their injuries to their health. The Senate will vote in favor of the bill, according to attorneys representing those who were affected by the contamination. The case will be coordinated by a federal judge as there are many such claims in North Carolina federal courts.
Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows camp residents to file compensation claims against the federal government. Individuals can file a claim under the act if they were injured in Camp Lejeune between 1953-1987. The statute of limitations for personal injuries claims is also eliminated by the act. To be eligible for the Act, however, you must have been a resident of Camp Lejeune for at most 30 days during that period.
To file a claim under Camp Lejeune Justice Act you must have lived or worked at Camp during the applicable time period. The contaminated water must have caused you physical injury, such as birth defects. An attorney will file a complaint that details the diagnosis, the effects on the claimant and the impact it had on their lives. The lawyer must prove that the contaminated waters caused the injury or death.
Other problems are also encountered by VA-sponsored Camp LeJeune efforts to clean up water contamination. These programs might not respond quickly or be slow. Sometimes, the VA has sat on contamination for many decades. The VA finally responded to veterans and their families after protests. Advocates claim that the VA delays remediation efforts despite not being transparent. The problem has just been acknowledged by the government.
The Camp Lejeune water supply was contaminated by toxic chemicals that are linked to cancer, birth defects, and ALS. The hundreds of victims of the contamination of the water supply have filed numerous lawsuits. These victims seek to receive compensation for their lost wages and medical expenses. It is unknown how many people were affected by the contaminated water. The fact that Camp Lejeune exposed one million Americans to toxic chemicals at the time is an indication that there were many Americans who were affected.
VA Benefits might be available to you if your condition was caused by toxic water at Camp LeJeune. You must prove that your illness was caused at Camp LeJeune by toxic water exposure. The VA will evaluate disability claims separately. VA benefits include free healthcare for qualified conditions. Veterans’ family members may be eligible to receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Where you at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987?