WhatHappened atCamp Lejeune?
The base began testing the water in 1980 to meet new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It tested for the presence of trihalomethanes while another laboratory found halogenated hydrocarbons in the water. These early reports indicated that the water was highly contaminated. Possible sources of the contaminants were varied and included on-base units that used toxic chemicals to clean equipment. An off-base dry-cleaning company is also a potential source along with leaks from underground fuel storage.
These warnings yielded no results, and the same water continued to be used for drinking and bathing at the base. More letters of warnings were written with reports going to those in command. In July of 1984, the chemical benzene was found in the water, which is a known carcinogen. At this time, the wells began to be shut down, but the presence of benzene wasn’t disclosed.
Notification and Next Steps
It wasn’t until 1999, that the former military members and their families received notification of their exposure to toxins at Camp Lejeune. An advocacy group formed to ensure that all former residents of the camp were made aware of the possible contamination. Multiple base housing sections were impacted by the contaminated drinking water.
It was determined that the levels of toxins in the water was from 240 to 3400 times the accepted levels. Because of the contamination, at least 850 claims have been filed by former residents. Total of these claims stands at almost $4 million.
In 2010, the VA ruled that one former servicemember’s cancer was caused by the contamination. He received 100 percent disability benefits. A second case came about in 2012 with another former servicemember’s cancer being recognized as caused by toxic exposure. These are the first cases where the government has admitted fault for what occurred at Camp Lejeune.
Since then, other victims have filed lawsuits against the US government for the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Committees for the House and Senate began investigations into the contamination. Evidence was discovered of falsified documentation. In a report discovered in 2010, the contractor who tested the water at Camp Lejeune recorded the level of benzene in a single well at 38 parts per billion, but the actual measurement was 380 parts per billion. The final report, which was issued in 1994, left out information about benzene completely.
After years of investigations, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act has been passed to ensure that these former residents have access to healthcare and other resources for the cancers and other illnesses they have suffered due to the contaminated water at the base. If you or a loved one are victims of this water contamination, you can seek renumeration for your damages with the help of Krause & Kinsman Law Firm.