Hundreds of thousands of United States Marines veterans and their family members stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 were exposed to hazardous chemicals in the water coming from the base’s wells.
This exposure has led to numerous health issues, including prolonged dental issues, cancers, birth defects, and deaths. Even though the contamination was found and stopped almost forty years ago, the pain endures today. Many of these health issues took decades to develop and only now are the effects being fully realized. In this article, we’ll talk about the health issues associated with water contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and why you should seek the counsel of a qualified Camp Lejeune settlement attorney if you feel you may have been exposed.
What Was in the Water at Camp Lejeune?
In the early 1980s, the trail of evidence that would uncover the contamination began. Thanks to the Clean Water Act as well as several other environmental laws passed in the 70s, mass water testing campaigns began nationwide. The water tested at Camp Lejeune was found to contain volatile chemicals traced to a nearby dry cleaning business–these reports were given to base management and ignored.
In 1984, further testing took place and additional harmful chemicals were discovered. Once again, base management was informed and the data was ignored. These results uncovered a chemical more troubling than those previously found—Benzene. Benzene is a type of fuel that was stored in huge amounts at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
The fuel farm was located right next to the groundwater source for the base’s living quarters. For more than thirty years, upwards of 800,000 gallons of benzene seeped into the soil and made its way into the water that military personnel and their families showered with and drank.
Still, this benzene didn’t appear in official reports. It wasn’t until 2009 that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was forced to admit that they had known about the benzene exposure when they published a report in 1997 claiming that cancerous effects were unlikely from drinking the base’s water.
What Are the Health Effects From the Contaminated Water?
A laundry list of symptoms, diseases, and cancers have been traced to the water at Camp Lejeune. Some of these effects, such as liver and kidney cancer and prolonged dental issues, took decades to appear. More immediate effects, such as miscarriages, also occurred in higher numbers among base personnel. Here is a partial list of disorders that have been connected to the water at Camp Lejeune:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Prolonged dental issues
There are potentially rarer problems and medical conditions related to toxic exposure from the water supply at Camp Lejeune. These include:
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Renal toxicity
One of the primary difficulties in pointing to Camp Lejeune as the cause of an illness is because the illnesses may occur so long after exposure, such as with prolonged dental issues. This leads many doctors to misunderstand the cause of the disease if they are unaware that a service member may have been stationed at Camp Lejeune during the years the water was contaminated.
Justice for Victims
VA compensation for Camp Lejeune water contamination has been slowly growing. In the last fifteen years, a series of legislative acts—the Janey Ensminger Act, and the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012—have been passed. Veterans and their families are now eligible not only for free VA healthcare related to the illnesses, but they may be eligible to receive financial compensation in regards to lost wages or disabilities that may have occurred as a result of exposure at Camp Lejeune.
Furthermore, as of mid-2022, the US Senate is debating the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which has already passed the House with bipartisan support. This legislation is intended to widely expand the 2012 Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act. Contact a qualified attorney today if you would like to know more about Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement amounts.