Camp Lejeune is a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina. It is the site where contaminated water for 30-plus years seriously injured or led to the death of those who served there. Thanks to a new federal law, those individuals or their surviving family members can sue for just compensation for their losses.
Camp Lejeune opened in 1942. Decades later, officials discovered that the base’s drinking water was contaminated by two of the base’s water treatment plants – the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant and the Hadnot Point water treatment plant.
It was ultimately established that the contamination occurred between 1953 and 1987. Toxic chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found in the water and were believed to have been there for a long time.
Toxic Chemicals Found in Camp Lejeune Drinking Water
According to the federal government’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the VOCs in Camp Lejeune’s contaminated drinking water included:
· Trichloroethylene (TCE)
· Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
· Vinyl chloride
ATSDR points to an off-base dry cleaning firm as one source of the Camp Lejeune drinking water contamination. Other sources were: leaking underground storage tanks, industrial area spills and waste disposal sites.
Health Effects from Chemicals in Contaminated Camp Lejeune Drinking Water
Based on human studies, animal studies and other factors, ATSDR outlines health effects directly linked or possibly linked to exposure to the dangerous chemicals found in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water. These include:
· Kidney cancer
· Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
· Bladder cancer
· Liver cancer
· End-stage renal disease
· Multiple myeloma
ATSDR also lists health problems found in those who did not work at Camp Lejeune but were exposed to the same toxic chemicals:
· Fetal death
· Birth defects
· Breast cancer
· Lung cancer
· Esophageal cancer
· Ovarian cancer
· Cervical cancer
Because the alleged harmful effects occurred on a Marine base, the victims or their families previously had little legal recourse. But that changed in early August.
Lawsuits on Behalf of Victims of Camp Lejeune Drinking Water
On August 10, the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act was signed into law. This law expands VA health benefits for military veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances while serving. It also includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which allows victims or their surviving family members to file wrongful death lawsuits or class action lawsuits against the federal government for their injuries.
The bill specifically eliminates the federal government’s usual immunity from such claims.
Plaintiffs in these cases must have been exposed to the Camp Lejeune contaminated drinking water for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.
If you or a loved one suffered from exposure to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune during this timeframe, you may want to contact an experienced personal injury attorney or an attorney experienced in representing plaintiffs in complex class action lawsuits.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray Ritter Graham. Posted in Blog August 17, 2022.