Camp Lejeune is a US military base located in North Carolina that, between 1953 and 1987, supplied its inhabitants with contaminated water.
In 1982, the U.S. Marine Corps discovered dangerous chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
Due to this, thousands of people suffered serious illnesses such as cancer or Parkinson’s and are now seeking medical and economic compensation.
In this note from Legal Help Advisor are details about the contaminated water from Camp Lejeune, its effects on the health of those who consumed it, and some recommendations for the victims.
About Camp Lejeune
US Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was established in 1942 in North Carolina and is a series of Marine training facilities. It is one of the busiest and largest bases in the Corps.
The water with which the people of Camp Lejeune bathed, drank, cooked, and washed came primarily from the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point water treatment plants.
In addition to providing water to the homes of listed families, these two plants also supplied barracks for single service personnel, base administrative offices, external workers, schools, and recreational areas.
In the early 1980s, some wells supplying treatment plants were found to be contaminated with industrial solvents.
That is why, According to ATSDR, up to a million military and civilian personnel and their families may have been exposed to contaminated drinking water.
Health issues associated with exposure to contaminants
According to the studies carried out by ATSDR, it was possible to relate exposure to water contaminated with PCE, TCE, Benzene, Vinyl chloride, and other compounds with the proliferation of the following diseases and cancer:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Prostate Cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Brain cancer
- Mayor cardiac birth defects
Which chemicals were found in the drinking water?
The toxic VOCs found in the drinking water included:
●Benzene: Used to make other chemicals that are components of plastics, resins, nylon, and synthetic fibers.
●Tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene or PCE): Used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing.
●Trichloroethylene (TCE): A solvent used to clean metal parts.
●Vinyl chloride (VC): Over time, TCE and PCE in groundwater degrade to become VC.
Benzene, TCE, and VC are all classified as cancer-causing chemicals, while PCE is classified as probably carcinogenic. Exposure to these chemicals can also increase the risk of birth defects and other health problems.
The concentration level of these carcinogenic chemicals at Camp Lejeune was over 2,000 times higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency safety limits.
The water wells supplying the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point treatment plants were shut down between 1984 and 1985, as they were found to contain the following volatile organic compounds, the main contaminant found was PCE.
Camp Lejeune: Birth Defects and Childhood Cancer Study
Drinking water systems that supplied two areas of housing at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, U.S., were contaminated with industrial chemicals from at least 1953 to 1985. The contaminated wells were shut down in February 1985.
In 2014, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)—a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—published their “Birth Defects and Childhood Cancer Study,” showing the link between the water contamination at Camp Lejeune and birth defects.
The ATSDR suggested a clear correlation between the level of prenatal exposure to the contaminated water and birth defect rates. Their study assessed data of 12,598 children born between 1968 and 1985, who had in utero exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
The Camp Lejeune babies in the study were four times more likely to have neural tube birth defects—the most being spina bifida and anencephaly—compared with the control group. Oral cleft defects were also present at a similarly high rate.
For cardiac birth defects, very short durations of prenatal exposure could be sufficient if the exposure occurred during the relevant vulnerability period for cardiac defects (3–9 months gestation). In utero exposures have also been associated with increased risk of childhood leukemia.
Who is Eligible to file a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
Any individual who suffered an injury caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, after living or working on the base for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, including:
- U.S. military service personnel
- Military service family members who resided on the base
- Unborn children exposed in utero
- Civilian contractors who worked at Camp Lejeune
Can anyone get on Camp Lejeune?
Thanks to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act enacted in August 2022 by the Joe Biden administration, victims of contaminated water can file a lawsuit in the United States District Court and seek legal redress. Note that you have up to two years after the law’s enactment to initiate the claim. After that date, it will no longer be possible to sue.
1. AGENCY FOR TOXIC SUBSTANCES AND DISEASE REGISTRY (ATSDR)
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
2. NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
Contaminated Water Supplies at Camp Lejeune: Assessing Potential Health Effects. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK215286/
3. AGENCY FOR TOXIC SUBSTANCES AND DISEASE REGISTRY (ATSDR)
ATSDR Assessment of the Evidence for the Drinking Water Contaminants at Camp Lejeune and Specific Cancers and Other Diseases
4. AGENCY FOR TOXIC SUBSTANCES AND DISEASE REGISTRY (ATSDR)
Health effects linked with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride exposure
H.R.2192 – Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021