Our attorneys are now handling claims for victims in all 50 states looking to file a lawsuit against Camp Lejeune for injuries and deaths that resulted from water contamination at this Marine Corps base.
A new bill – Honoring our PACT Act of 2022 – will allow individuals who were exposed to contaminated water between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987 to sue and recover damages for harm from exposure.
This bill is meant to prohibit the U.S. Government from asserting specified immunity from litigation in response to these lawsuits. This bill also addresses health care, presumption of service-connection, research, resources, and other matters related to veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during military service.
This means that people who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and suffered water toxicity-related diseases, such as cancer and other illnesses, may be eligible for settlement compensation from the government.
Current Bill Status: H.R.3967 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): Honoring our PACT Act of 2022
Where Is Camp Lejeune Located?
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is a 246-square-mile United States military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Its 14 miles of beaches make the base a major area for amphibious assault training, and its location between two deep-water ports (Wilmington and Morehead City) allows for fast deployments. The main base is supplemented by six satellite facilities: Marine Corps Air Station New River, Camp Geiger, Stone Bay, Courthouse Bay, Camp Johnson, and the Greater Sandy Run Training Area. The Marine Corps port facility is in Beaufort, at the southern tip of Radio Island (between the NC State Port in Morehead City, and the marine science laboratories on Pivers Island in Beaufort). It is military property but is occupied only during military port operations.
What Happened At Camp Lejeune?
From at least 1953 through 1987, Marines and personnel of any branch of the armed forces and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune’s main base, barracks, family, temporary housing, Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point (for thirty days or more) drank and bathed in water contaminated with toxins at concentrations from 240 to 3400 times levels permitted by safety standards. As a result, at least 850 former residents filed claims for nearly $4 billion from the military. The contamination appears to have affected the water from two of the eight water treatment plants on the base. The main chemicals involved were volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry-cleaning solvent, and trichloroethylene (TCE), a degreaser; however, more than 70 chemicals have been identified as contaminants at Lejeune. The base’s wells were shut off in the mid-1980s, after which the water met federal standards, then they were placed back online in violation of the law. The National Research Council of the National Academies released a report based upon a literature review of PCE and TCE in July 2009. The report failed to assess other contaminants, such as benzene and vinyl chloride, and concluded that the water at the base was tainted between 1950 and 1987, but that the contamination could not be linked to any health problems. However, an October 2010 a letter from the Director of the government agency tasked to study health effects at Superfund sites, such as Camp Lejeune, illustrated the limitations of the 2009 literature review and advised that there “was undoubtedly a hazard associated with drinking the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.”
In 1980 the base began testing the water for trihalomethanes in response to new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That same year, a laboratory from the U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency began finding halogenated hydrocarbons in the water. In March 1981 one of the lab’s reports, which was delivered to U.S. Marine officials, stated, “Water is highly contaminated with other chlorinated hydrocarbons (solvents)!”
Possible sources of the contamination include solvents from a nearby, off-base dry-cleaning company, from on-base units using chemicals to clean military equipment, and leaks from underground fuel storage tanks. In 1982, a private company, Grainger Laboratories, contracted by the USMC to examine the problem provided the base commander with a report showing that the wells supplying water for the base were contaminated with trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene. The contractor delivered repeated warnings to base officials, including base chemist Elizabeth Betz, that the water was contaminated. A representative from Grainger, Mike Hargett, stated that he went with Betz in July 1982 to inform an unnamed Marine lieutenant colonel who was deputy director of base utilities about the problems with the water. According to Hargett, the Marine was unwilling to discuss Hargett’s concerns. In August 1982, a Grainger chemist, Bruce Babson, sent a letter to the base commander, Marine Major General D. J. Fulham, warning him that the base wells appeared to be poisoned. The water from the contaminated wells, however, continued in use at the base.
Grainger continued to warn Marine officials of problems with the water in December 1982, March 1983, and September 1983. In a spring 1983 report to the EPA, Lejeune officials stated that there were no environmental problems at the base. In June 1983, North Carolina’s water supply agency asked Lejeune officials for Grainger’s lab reports on the water testing. Marine officials declined to provide the reports to the state agency. In December 1983 Lejeune officials scaled back the water testing performed by Grainger.
In July 1984, a different company contracted under the EPA’s Superfund review of Lejeune and other sites found benzene in the base’s water, along with PCE and TCE. Marine officials shut down one of the contaminated wells in November 1984 and the rest in early 1985. The Marines notified North Carolina of the contamination in December 1984. At this time the Marines did not disclose that benzene had been discovered in the water and stated to the media that the EPA did not mandate unacceptable levels of PCE and TCE.
In 1997 the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) investigated the well water and concluded that cancerous effects in personnel exposed to the water was unlikely. According to a federal investigation, ATSDR investigators overlooked evidence of benzene in the water when preparing the report.
On April 28, 2009, the ATSDR admitted that the water had been contaminated with benzene and withdrew the 1997 report. The benzene most likely occurred as a result of 800,000 gallons of fuel that leaked from the base fuel farm during the years in question. The fuel leaks occurred near the main well that serves Hadnot Point, location of enlisted and officer’s quarters and the base hospital. For unknown reasons, the presence of benzene in the water had been omitted from the official report that the USMC submitted for federal health review in 1992, in spite of the USMC being aware of the presence of the chemical. The report had been prepared by a contractor; Baker Corp. State officials had also reportedly informed the ATSDR in 1994 about the presence of benzene in the water.
Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012
Establishes a “presumptive service connection” for certain illnesses associated with the Camp Lejeune water contamination. This connection means that you only need to show that you lived on the base during the contamination (for at least 30 days) and developed a condition. Qualifying Veterans can receive all their health care from VA if they served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, even if they don’t have a health condition that is presumed to be related to exposure.
More information: https://www.congress.gov/bill/112th-congress/house-bill/1627/text
Janey Ensminger Act of 2012/2017
All family members who resided at the base from 1953 – 1987, or were in utero during such period while the mother resided at Camp Lejeune, are eligible for hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care through the VA for any condition or disability associated with exposure to the VOCs that contaminated the base’s water supply.
A veteran who served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days is eligible for disability benefits which include hospital care and medical services for any of the illnesses or conditions for which the evidentiary connection between toxic exposure and the illness or condition is categorized in such a list as sufficient or modest.
Also directs the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, to update conditions, illnesses and evidence for such connection of exposure to toxic substances for those families who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune and to publish those findings at least every three years.
More information: https://www.burr.senate.gov/services/files/45F705BE-2015-44EA-A0A2-CD83B4682749
Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022
This bill allows certain individuals to sue and recover damages for harm from exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. This action is available only to individuals who were exposed to contaminated water for at least 30 days. The bill prohibits the U.S. government from asserting specified immunity from litigation in response to such a lawsuit. The bill also prohibits an individual who brings such an action from bringing a separate tort action against the United States based on the same harm. Introduced March 2021/Passed House March 2022/Waiting for Senate Approval.
More Information: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2192
Studies Link Contaminants to Cancer and Other Medical Conditions
The chemicals that were found in the Camp Lejeune water supply for well over four decades are known to be extremely harmful to humans and have been associated with certain types of cancer, neurologic disorders, and even birth defects. Medical studies and research has established that prolonged exposure to trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene is associated with higher rates of certain cancers. The medical conditions that have been linked to trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene exposure include, but are not limited to:
- Bladder Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
- Female Infertility
- Hepatic Steatosis
- Kidney Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma
- Myelodysplastic Syndrome
- Neurobehavioral Effects
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Renal Toxicity
Camp Lejeune Victims – Our Attorneys Can Help You
Our lawyers are now actively representing victims of the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit cases that meet the following criteria:
- You served, lived, or worked on the Camp Lejeune base for at least 1 month between the years 1953 and 1987.
- You have been subsequently diagnosed with: bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, leukemia, multiple myeloma, lymphoma, or other neurologic conditions.