Camp Lejeune Justice Act Water Contamination Lawyer
What is Camp Lejeune?
Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps Based Camp that is almost 250 square miles long located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. It’s primarily used as a training facility, and its long stretch of beaches makes the base a major training ground for amphibious assaults. It originally began construction in April 1941 and continued to expand. Today, Camp Lejeune is still an important training facility for the Marine Corps.
The Water Contamination Issue
From 1953 to 1987, Marine Corps personnel, their families, and contractors who were stationed at Camp Lejeune were exposed to tap water that was contaminated with harmful chemicals. The estimates for the concentration of the chemicals range from 240 to 3400 times the current safety levels. The individuals were exposed to the chemicals by bathing in and consuming the tap water. Countless people who were exposed to the contaminated tap water developed cancer or other illness.
More than 70 chemicals were identified as the contaminants in the tap water at Camp Lejeune. Among these chemicals are trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VC), and benzene. TCE is a solvent used for cleaning metal parts. PCE is used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing. TCE and PCE degrade in groundwater overtime and become VC’s. Benzene is used to make other chemicals which are used in plastics, resins, nylon and synthetic fibers.
After nearly $4 billion in lawsuits were filed against the military, the wells at the camp were shut off sometime in the mid-1980s. Shortly after shutting down the well, it was brought back in operation, but the water still contained contaminants. In 2009, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a sub-branch of the Department of Health and Human Services, found that the water still contained unsafe amounts of benzene, a substance known to cause cancer. However, the ATSDR in 1997 had published a report concluding that cancer derived from exposure to the water was unlikely. After their findings in 2009, they withdrew their 1997 report. The ATSDR reasoned that the benzene exposure most likely resulted from nearly 800,000 gallons of fuel that leaked into the water.
Contamination also likely occurred from a water treatment plant located near the camp. The Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant was contaminated by PCE’s because of waste disposal practices at ABC One-Hour Cleaners, which was a dry-cleaning business located off-base. Similarly, the Hadnot Point water treatment plant was contaminated by TCEs, PCEs, benzene and VCs caused by leaking underground storage tanks, industrial spills, and waste disposal sites. The water from these treatment plants then flowed to Camp Lejeune where people bathed in and consumed it.
Known Illnesses & Subsequent Remedies
In 2012, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act was passed in Congress. Under the act, Veterans Affairs (VA) allows qualifying veterans to receive all their healthcare if they served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
There are several illnesses that are presumed to have occurred from exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune:
- Adult leukemia,
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes,
- Bladder cancer,
- Kidney cancer,
- Liver cancer,
- Multiple myeloma,
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,
- Parkinson’s disease.
The conditions listed above, according to the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act, are the only ones for which there is sufficient scientific and medical evidence to support the creation of the presumptions. Veterans are still encouraged to propose to the VA that any other illness they have, and they believe are a result of exposure from the water at Camp Lejeune, and their cases will be reviewed accordingly.
Other than the illnesses listed above which are presumed to have been caused by the exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act includes several other qualifying health conditions:
- Esophageal cancer,
- Breast cancer,
- Renal toxicity,
- Female infertility,
- Lung cancer,
- Hepatic steatosis,
- Neurobehavioral effects.
Other illnesses that could have been caused by exposure to the water include birth defects in children, childhood cancers, and sudden death.
Just recently, President Biden signed into law the PACT Act, which includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. This act expands the ability for veterans and their families to sue the federal government if they were victims of the Camp Lejeune water contamination. The act precludes the U.S. Government from asserting immunity that would usually be available to them. The fact that in 2022, the U.S. Government is still creating measures and remedies for the victims of this incident shows that justice has yet to be fully served.
To date, over $4 billion in claims have been filed against the federal government for damages incurred by those exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Given President Biden’s recent passage of the PACT Act, which includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, the number of claims that will be filed against the federal government will increase exponentially.
Since the passage of the PACT Act, approximately 5,000 claims have been filed in the first month of the law’s passage. In fact, the ADTSDR expects that nearly 500,000 claims may be filed, likely making this the largest mass litigation in U.S. history. Under the PACT Act, and more specifically the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, government immunity protections will be removed for claims of damages incurred by those who drank the water at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987.
To qualify for a claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act:
- You lived, worked or were present at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days (does not have to be consecutive), between August 1st, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
- Proof of one of the qualifying illnesses listed above with appropriate documentation.
- File a VA Claim.
- While waiting for VA response, seek out a lawyer.
- File your lawsuit.
Contact An Experienced Camp Lejeune Justice Act Lawyer
Rosen Injury Law, P.A. is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawyers never know when you might need our help, so we stay accessible to you at all times. Call 954-787-1500 to get started with a free consultation about your case. We don’t charge by the hour; you only pay a fee if we are successful in recovering compensation for you.