During the 1980s, several people stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune began to develop numerous health issues. At the same time these mysterious health problems were occurring, water quality testing was taking place on the base. The water testing began as a result of landmark environmental legislation passed in the 1970s, including the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.
During the testing of the base’s water, dangerous chemicals were found, and the military swept most of the evidence under the rug. It wasn’t until 1987 that the base’s wells were shut down. The true scope of the disaster wasn’t fully recognized until 2009, and it would take until 2022 for the Camp Lejeune Justice Act to be passed and for veterans to be empowered to seek the compensation they so desperately needed.
Today’s article will discuss the health problems associated with the contaminated water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, as well as a bit of the history surrounding the exposure. We’ll also talk about how Strom Law can assist you and your family with a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit.
What Exactly Happened to the Water at the Base?
Any soldier stationed at the base for more than thirty consecutive days between 1953 and 1987 may have been exposed to toxic chemicals. The tests completed in the 1980s identified two chemicals in the water—trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene (TCE and PCE respectively). These chemicals were linked to a nearby drycleaning facility.
The results were submitted to base management and ignored; in 1984, further testing by a separate company identified benzene in the water, as well. Once again, the results were ignored. Finally, in 1987, the primary wells responsible for the contamination were shut down, but the military remained silent on what had occurred.
Several more rounds of testing and denials occurred throughout the 1990s, including a 1997 report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) that claimed cancerous effects were unlikely due to exposure to the groundwater. Finally, after thousands of veterans and their families grew sicker and developed serious cancers, the evidence could no longer be overlooked.
In 2009, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was forced to withdraw its previous 1997 study. It admitted that benzene, previously omitted from prior testing, was the largest culprit due to massive fuel leaks. Over the thirty-four years that the wells were in operation, more than 800,000 gallons of fuel had leaked into the groundwater from a faulty fuel storage farm.
What Are the Health Problems Associated With the Contaminated Water?
Officially, Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes eight diseases considered presumptive illnesses caused by the Camp Lejeune water contamination. In order for the VA to recognize the exposure, a person must have been stationed on the base for thirty consecutive days between 1953 and 1987. Here are the eight conditions currently recognized by the VA:
- Aplastic anemia
- Multiple myeloma
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Adult leukemia
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
However, just because a health problem occurred as a result of exposure and is not listed here does not mean the person suffering is disqualified from receiving compensation or benefits. Many cases are working their way through the courts, and several other illnesses have been reported, such as:
- Lung cancer
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Renal toxicity
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
In some veterans, even dental issues from the Camp Lejeune water contamination have been reported.
If you or a loved one was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for thirty or more consecutive days between 1953 and 1987 and has gone on to develop serious health complications or died as a result of them, they or you may be entitled to compensation from the VA.
In 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was signed by the president and greatly expanded care for veterans and their families affected by their exposure to the chemicals present in the water. Furthermore, the law expanded the ability to file suit against the government for financial compensation outside of medical care received through the VA.
Strom Law is incredibly familiar with Camp Lejeune cases and is working with several victims and their families to seek justice and compensation for their ongoing pain and suffering. Reach out today to see how we can help you receive the justice you deserve!