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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination: The Truth Behind What Caused It

For years, veterans and their families living on the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune have been struggling with the devastating health effects caused by water contamination. The exact cause of this water contamination has been a mystery, but recent investigations have revealed its shocking truth. In this blog post, we will discuss what caused the Camp Lejeune water contamination and the implications this has had on the lives of those affected. Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers is committed to helping veterans and their families seek justice and compensation for their suffering. We invite you to read on to learn more about this environmental tragedy.

The History of Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune is a United States Marine Corps base located in North Carolina. It was established in 1941 and served as an active-duty training center for the Marine Corps until its decommissioning in 1997. Camp Lejeune was home to over 60,000 personnel and family members in its heyday. 

The base is well known for one of the worst cases of water contamination in US history. The cause of the contamination dates back to the early 1950s when the base used various fuel sources to power its operations. Unfortunately, these fuel sources leaked into the base’s drinking water supply, contaminating it with various hazardous chemicals. 

The contaminants in the water included toxins such as trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, vinyl chloride, and arsenic. The source of the contamination was traced to various fuel depots around the base and the industrial waste that was improperly disposed of on the property. 

The contamination went undetected for decades, resulting in numerous illnesses among the personnel and their families. In 1982, it was finally discovered and brought to light by former Marine Corps Corporal Rick Shiver. His efforts led to a massive investigation and lawsuit against the government for its negligence.

The Contaminants in the Water

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune has been attributed to several toxic substances. These substances include various industrial solvents such as trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, benzene, and vinyl chloride. These contaminants are believed to be from various sources, including off-base fuel storage tanks, illegal dumping sites, and seepage from nearby chemical factories. 

The high levels of these contaminants in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune led to an increased risk of developing cancer and other diseases. Trichloroethylene (TCE) is one of the most common contaminants found in the water at Camp Lejeune and has been linked to an increased risk of liver, kidney, and bladder cancer. Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is another contaminant associated with an increased risk of cancer and other health problems, such as congenital disabilities and neurological problems. Benzene is known to be a carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer and has been linked to an increased risk of certain types of leukemia. Vinyl chloride is another carcinogen linked to increased brain, lung, and liver cancer risk. 

The Health Effects of the Contamination

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune was catastrophic for the health of thousands of veterans and their families. The contaminants in the water included benzene, vinyl chloride, trichloroethylene (TCE), and perchloroethylene (PCE). These chemicals cause several illnesses, including cancer, neurological damage, and respiratory problems. 

For example, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) found that exposure to TCE can cause increased risks of kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma. In addition, they found an increased risk of congenital disabilities when mothers are exposed to these chemicals during pregnancy.

In 2014, Congress passed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012. This act provides compensation for 15 diseases that have been linked to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. The 15 conditions are adult leukemia; aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes; bladder cancer; kidney cancer; liver cancer; multiple myeloma; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; Parkinson’s disease; prostate cancer; breast cancer; esophageal cancer; hematopoietic cancers; multiple sclerosis; renal toxicity; and scleroderma.

The Lawsuit Against the Government

The water supply contamination at Camp Lejeune was a tragedy with far-reaching consequences. After it was discovered in the early 1980s, many began to look into the cause of the contamination and who was to blame. In 1983, Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water victims began to sue the United States government.

The families of those affected by the contamination filed a class action lawsuit against the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency for their negligence in allowing the contamination to occur. They argued that both agencies had acted negligently by failing to identify, treat and prevent the contamination from occurring.

In 1989, a Federal District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the Department of Defense had been negligent in its handling of the matter. As a result, they awarded the plaintiffs a settlement of $90 million. 

However, it wasn’t until 1996 that Congress passed the Marine Corps Act, which provided medical benefits and compensation to those affected by the contamination at Camp Lejeune. The act also established an assistance program for those affected by the contamination and offered additional assistance to family members and survivors. 

It took over three decades for justice to finally be served for those affected by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, but it was eventually achieved. If you or a loved one were affected by the contamination at Camp Lejeune, you might be eligible for compensation or other forms of assistance.

Final Thoughts  

Veterans who have experienced health issues due to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune have a right to seek compensation. If you or someone you know has been affected by this tragedy, you must speak with an experienced lawyer who can help you understand your rights. The law firm of Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers is dedicated to helping those exposed to toxic chemicals or polluted water receive compensation for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. We have a team of skilled lawyers who represent those affected by military base toxic exposure and can provide an in-depth evaluation of your case. 

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