It was discovered that between 1953 and 1987 that the water in Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base camp in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was contaminated with hazardous chemicals. Decades later, veterans, former military personnel, and their families developed medical issues caused by ingestion of and exposure to the toxic water.
In response to the incident, the United States government, through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), has allowed eligible persons to receive benefits and compensation for the effects of the Camp Lejeune contamination. However, none of the victims could file a claim for damages, even with a Camp Lejeune settlement attorney—until now, as the new Camp Lejeune Justice Act, a new bill expanding existing legislation, is about to be signed into law.
The Camp Lejeune Contamination
In the early 1980s, two water supply systems servicing Camp Lejeune–the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point treatment plants–were contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including over seventy other health-hazardous chemicals. These included:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Vinyl chloride
Other highly carcinogenic toxins, such as heavy metals, pesticides, and assorted polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), were also found. The contaminants primarily came from leaking storage tanks and industrial activities–PCE at Tarawa Terrace was traced back to an off-base dry cleaning service that practiced improper waste disposal, while toxic chemicals at Hadnot Point were caused by on-base spills at industrial sites and leaks from underground storage tanks at dumps and storage lots.
Former residents of the base developed serious medical issues years later, which were linked to the bad water of Camp Lejeune. These include:
- Cancer (esophageal, breast, kidney, lung, bladder, cervical, ovarian, stomach)
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Hepatic steatosis
- Aplastic anemia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Renal toxicity
- Female infertility
- Neurobehavioral effects
Seeking Justice for Camp Lejeune Victims
Recognizing the adverse effects of the Camp Lejeune contamination, the U.S. government has taken measures to provide benefits to the veterans and civilians stationed at the base between 1953 and 1987 through two key laws: the Janey Ensminger Act and the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act.
Janey Ensminger Act
The Janey Ensminger Act allows non-military family members to apply for VA benefits awarded to Camp Lejeune victims. It was named after a Marine’s daughter who lived at the base and died of cancer due to exposure to the toxic water.
Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act
The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act provides benefits to veterans, their family members, and other personnel or civilians exposed to the bad water at Camp Lejeune. These benefits include healthcare and authorized coverage for out-of-pocket healthcare costs, which are granted to eligible recipients who meet specific standards.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is a bill that allows veterans and their family members, civilian workers, contractors, and any other persons who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least thirty days between August 1st, 1953 and December 31st, 1987 to recover damages for any injuries experienced from the contamination. It expands existing legislation and allows victims to file a claim against the U.S. government and secure damages; it also covers all types of compensatory damages, including permanent injury, emotional losses, loss of consortium, disability, and wrongful death. Additionally, it allows those in-utero at the time of exposure to seek compensation, as well.
What Does This Mean for Camp Lejeune Victims?
If signed into law, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act will finally permit Camp Lejeune victims to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for their injuries after decades of being denied such justice. This is significant because it extends this authorization to non-military exposure victims, overturns the Feres Doctrine (which bars individuals from filing a claim or suit based on injuries incident to their service), and extends the ten-year statute of limitation in North Carolina for injuries.
Filing a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
If you or a loved one was stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and experienced negative health effects due to your exposure to the toxic water, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. To make this possible, support the Camp Lejeune Justice Act by contacting your state senators.
If you need help filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit or would like more information on the benefits you’re eligible to receive, contact Strom Law to speak with qualified lawyers who can help you throughout each step of the claim or lawsuit process.