Between 1953 and 1987, almost one million military personnel and their family members stationed at Camp Lejeune, a United States Marine Corps base camp, in North Carolina, were exposed to chemically contaminated water. Scientific and medical evidence has shown that the toxic water of Camp Lejeune can be associated with certain diseases that have developed in those who ingested or were in contact with it.
As a result, the United States, through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), grants disability benefits to eligible veterans, reservists, and guardsmen, as well as their families. Until now, however, affected persons didn’t have the means to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit, but steps are being taken to empower this action and enable military personnel to get just compensation, specifically through the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.
The Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
In the early 1980s, it was discovered that two water supply systems at Camp Lejeune were contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including upwards of seventy other chemicals that posed health risks. These water systems served enlisted-family housing, barracks for unmarried service personnel, base administrative offices, schools, recreational areas, and the base hospital.
What Were the Toxic Chemicals at Camp Lejeune?
The most prevalent and health-hazardous contaminants found in the Camp Lejeune water include:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Vinyl chloride
Apart from these, other highly carcinogenic toxins, such as heavy metals, pesticides, and assorted polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), were found.
How Did the Toxic Chemicals Get Into the Water?
The toxic chemicals that contaminated the water at Camp Lejeune primarily came from leaking storage tanks and industrial activities. PCE, one of the primary contaminants, came from an off-base dry cleaner that followed improper disposal practices. Other toxic chemicals came from on-base spills at industrial sites, as well as from leaks from underground storage tanks and drums at dumps and storage lots.
The Effects of the Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune
Exposure to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune resulted in several serious effects–so much so that the VA has even released a list of presumptive diseases that make former residents eligible for benefits. These people only need to prove they were at Camp Lejeune between 1953 to 1987 for a minimum of thirty days.
Some health issues related to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune include:
- Cancer (esophageal, breast, kidney, lung, bladder, cervical, ovarian, and stomach)
- Multiple myeloma
- Renal toxicity
- Female infertility
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Hepatic steatosis
- Aplastic anemia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Neurobehavioral effects
Camp Lejeune Disability Compensation and Benefits
For years, the U.S. government has acknowledged the severe effects that veterans and military personnel have endured from their exposure to toxic water while stationed at Camp Lejeune. There have been concrete measures taken to provide them with corresponding benefits, such as 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 for healthcare issues related to the Camp Lejeune contamination. It was named after a Marine’s daughter who lived at the camp and died of cancer likely due to toxic exposure.
Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act
The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act grants some benefits (including authorized coverage for out-of-pocket healthcare costs) to veterans, family members, and others exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune if they meet specific standards.
Camp Lejeune Justice Act
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act expands the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act. It covers all types of compensation, including permanent injuries, emotional losses, consortium loss, disability and wrongful death, and allows those in-utero at the time of exposure to also seek compensation.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act also allows victims to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government and secure damages. The court would handle it the same way in which mass tort and personal injury litigation is handled, and would overrule state laws prohibiting similar actions.
Filing a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
If exposure to the toxic water of Camp Lejeune has affected your health, you deserve compensation for your injuries and the resulting medical costs or lost wages. To support the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, contact your state senators. If you need help filing a Camp Lejeune water contamination 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 every step along the way.