What Caused the Toxic Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?

Chemical spills and leaks from off-base and on-base sources caused the toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune. According to a study published in the National Academies Press (NAP), industrial solvents and cleaners had contaminated Camp Lejeune wells and water treatment plants as early as the 1950s.

What Toxins Were in Camp Lejeune’s Water?

The NAP study says that many different chemicals were found in Camp Lejeune’s water supply, but the two main culprits were perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE). These chemicals were used at numerous locations both on and off the base, including:

  • A dry-cleaning business
  • Industrial sites
  • Underground chemical storage sites
  • Burn dumps

From these locations, the chemicals were able to leak out, soak into the ground, and enter the camp’s water supplies. Marines who lived or worked on the base—as well as their spouses and children—used this toxic water for all of their everyday needs, including:

  • Drinking
  • Bathing
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning

What Health Problems Do Victims of Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Exposure Face?

The toxic water at Camp Lejeune contained numerous chemicals that humans should never consume or have direct contact with.

In 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that perchloroethylene is unreasonably dangerous to humans. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) lists trichloroethylene as a carcinogen that people should not ingest or even spend time around without protection.

Those exposed to such chemicals are at an increased risk of sustaining serious personal injuries and illnesses, including:

  • Cancer of the liver, kidney, breast, esophagus, and other cancers
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Infertility and pregnancy loss
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Renal toxicity

Some Camp Lejeune Health Problems Are Fatal

It has been decades since the contamination occurred, so many victims who might have qualified for compensation have tragically already passed away. Many others are so sick they may not have enough time to complete a legal action. Still others suffered a miscarriage years ago due to the contamination.

All of these situations could constitute grounds for a wrongful death case. Your family should not have to forego compensation just because it has taken so long for the government to recognize the harm to victims.

Did the Government Make the Water Contamination Worse?

Yes. The federal government knew years ago that chemical leaks had caused toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Rather than go to the trouble of relocating the Marines and decontaminating the water supply, they chose to hide information about the toxic water.

For this reason, many former Marines and their families are now seeking compensation from the federal government. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 allows these individuals to more easily recover damages if they:

  • Were at Camp Lejeune at any time from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987. These dates reflect when we know for sure the water supply was contaminated and used by Marines.
  • Were at Camp Lejeune for at least thirty days
  • Faced health conditions directly related to toxic water contamination

What Can I Do About Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

If you were stationed at any Camp Lejeune base for thirty days or more between 1953 and 1987, you can pursue compensation by:

Filing for VA Benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allows veterans and qualifying relatives to get medical benefits through the agency. This would enable you to afford the medical treatments you need for your contaminant-related health condition.

The process of applying for benefits includes:

  • Collecting evidence to show you are sick and that you were at Camp Lejeune while the water was contaminated
  • Submitting this evidence and all appropriate forms to the VA for consideration
  • Supplying additional evidence and attending hearings, if the VA does not approve your claim right away
  • Keeping an eye out for communications from the VA that will tell you whether or not they approve your claim and what actions you can take if you are dissatisfied with their decision

You have the right to hire a personal injury lawsuit attorney to handle your case for you. You may find a lawyer’s assistance helpful when:

  • You need more time to deal with troublesome symptoms or receive treatment.
  • You have questions about the application process.
  • The case takes a long time (some applicants can wait years for benefits).
  • You have to figure out how to present your case before a VA representative.

Filing a Lawsuit

In addition, you may also qualify to file a lawsuit against the federal government for doing nothing about the toxic water at Camp Lejeune for so many years. Their negligence endangered you and your family, so you may deserve compensation for:

  • Loss of wages
  • Inability to work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Loss of consortium

Again, a lawyer can make it easier for you to manage your pursuit of damages. Lawsuits typically take a great deal of time and effort, and you could benefit from having a legal professional handle the hard work of:

  • Investigating your illness and collecting as much evidence as possible to support your case
  • Determining how much compensation you deserve and what types of compensation (medical costs, pain and suffering, etc.) you qualify for
  • Helping you decide whether to seek compensation from the VA, the federal government, or both
  • Filing all of the paperwork needed to start your case and keep it going without delays or problems
  • Following up if there are any issues with your case (e.g., the VA says they did not receive a specific document)
  • Representing you at VA hearings, at the negotiating table, or in the courtroom
  • Getting and staying in touch with all relevant parties and letting you know what they have to say about your case

Were You Harmed by Camp Lejeune’s Toxic Water?

While a variety of factors caused the toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune, it was ultimately the government’s negligence that caused so much harm to Marines and their families. To see how you can seek compensation, fill out our contact form and let us put you in touch with a mass torts lawyer in your area.