What Happened at Camp Lejeune?

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Between 1953 and 1987, the water supply at Camp Lejeune, a military base in North Carolina, was contaminated with dangerous chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, and other serious health problems. The widespread use of industrial solvents, such as trichloroethylene (TCE), and other hazardous substances by base personnel and nearby industries resulted in the aforementioned contamination, which included drinking and bathing water sources.

In 1982, the Marine Corps discovered specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the drinking water provided by water treatment plants to the Camp Lejeune military base, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Toxic Chemicals in the Camp Lejeune Water Supply

The ATSDR determined that the Camp Lejeune water wells contained the following toxic chemicals and substances:

  • Benzene
  • Dichloroethylene (DCE)
  • Tetrachloroethylene – also known as perchloroethylene (PCE)
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Vinyl chloride

These chemicals and substances have been linked to an array of serious, life-threatening medical conditions.

Health Issues Linked to Toxic Camp Lejeune Water Supply

Long-term exposure to these toxic chemicals has been linked to a variety of serious health conditions, including various cancers, neurological disorders, and reproductive issues. Identified health issues associated with the chemicals found in the toxic Camp Lejeune water supply include:

  • Aplastic anemia
  • Birth defects
  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cardiac defects
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Crest syndrome/Scleroderma
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Hepatic steatosis (also known as “fatty liver disease”)
  • Female infertility
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphomas
  • Miscarriage(s)
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Rectal cancer
  • Renal toxicity
  • Sarcoma

According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the medical journal Environmental Health, people stationed at Camp Lejeune when the water was actively contaminated are more likely to die from certain cancers or Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In addition, Camp Lejeune Marines were found to have the following increased health risks after being exposed to the toxic water on base:

  • 10 percent increased risk of dying from cancer
  • 35 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with kidney cancer
  • 42 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with liver cancer
  • 47 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Approximately double the risk of being diagnosed with ALS, if someone was exposed to vinyl chloride in the drinking water.

Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Symptoms

Exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune can cause a range of serious health conditions. The initial symptoms of these illnesses may involve changes to your behavior, cognitive functioning, or overall well-being. Symptoms that may develop after consuming the toxic water at Camp Lejeune may include some, or a combination, of the following:

  • Back pain
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Cramping
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Headaches
  • Lack of coordination
  • Light sensitivity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lumps in the body
  • Nausea
  • Night sweats
  • Numbness in legs
  • Pain or swelling in the affected area
  • Persistent fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Legal Implications of Contaminated Camp Lejeune Water Supply

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune has had far-reaching legal implications. For example, estimates indicate more than one million people may have been exposed to toxic substances in the water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. The exposure to toxic chemicals and subsequent health issues have prompted affected individuals and their families to seek legal recourse.

Pursuing Financial Restitution for Harms and Losses Linked to the Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (“CLJA”) allows individuals impacted by the toxic water supply at Camp Lejeune to pursue compensation for their harms and losses. Eligible individuals include those who:

  • Lived or worked on base for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987; and
  • Developed a health issue or illness linked to the contaminated water

Your Camp Lejeune toxic water injury claim will need to be filed with the Department of the Navy (“DON”) for initial review. The DON may offer an elective payout if you meet specific conditions. If a payout is not offered or you decline the payout, your attorney can proceed with filing a Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuit against the federal government.

Your attorney will take steps to work to negotiate a Camp Lejeune toxic water claim settlement that accounts for you or your loved one’s medical expenses, pain, and suffering, along with other relevant harms and losses. If your claim cannot be resolved via settlement, your attorney should be willing and able to go to trial and advocate on your behalf.

To learn more about your legal options and the path to obtaining financial restitution, contact Serling & Abramson, P.C. to schedule a no-cost confidential case evaluation.