From 1953 to 1987, the drinking water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was contaminated, exposing hundreds of thousands of active-duty service members, their families, and civilian staff to harmful chemicals over time. Wells at two primary water treatment facilities were found to be contaminated when the water was thoroughly tested in the 1980s. The chemicals found in these wells have been linked to a range of serious diseases and conditions, including cancer.

Service members and others who were stationed at Camp Lejeune for a period of at least 30 days from August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987, and were later diagnosed with a serious health issue could be entitled to recover damages for monetary and non-financial losses they suffered due to their condition.

Contact a knowledgeable Camp Lejeune lawsuit attorney from Minner Vines Injury Lawyers, PLLC to discuss your case today. We will help you hold all liable parties accountable for their negligence and aggressively pursue compensation on your behalf. Reach out to our Camp Lejeune water contamination litigation lawyers at (859) 550-2900 for a free consultation.

Causes of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Toxic levels of various man-made VOCs (volatile organic compounds) were found in the water at two treatment plants on the base: the Tarawa Terrace water treatment facility and the Hadnot Point water treatment facility. The four main VOCs discovered during water testing in the 1980s include TCE (trichloroethylene), PCE (perchloroethylene), vinyl chloride, and benzene. Approximately 70 other secondary chemicals were also found in the water supply.

Water wells at the Tarawa Terrace treatment plant were found to be contaminated with PCE, a chemical that is frequently used by dry cleaners. The source of the contamination was revealed to be an off-base cleaning company known as ABC One-Hour Cleaners. The cleaning company had failed to properly dispose of their dry-cleaning chemicals, which seeped into the groundwater and ultimately ended up in the water at the Tarawa Terrace plant. The level of PCE found at the Tarawa Terrace plant greatly exceeded the amount permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The wells at Hadnot Point water treatment plant were primarily contaminated with TCE. The levels of TCE found in the Hadnot plant’s wells reached levels of up to 1,400 μg/L (micrograms per liter). The EPA only allows up to 5 μg/L of the chemical in any water source. Other chemicals were also found in the water at the Hadnot Point plant. Those chemicals included DCE (dichloroethylene), PCE, benzene, and vinyl chloride.

There were various potential sources of contamination at the Hadnot Point water treatment facility. They included chemical spills, underground storage tank leaks, and certain toxic waste disposal sites.

The most significantly contaminated wells at both the Tarawa Terrace treatment facility and the Hadnot Point facility were decommissioned in February 1985. Still, the federal government allowed the water contamination to continue unabated for more than 30 years by failing to conduct proper testing of the water wells on the base.

Health Problems Caused by Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

A wide variety of health conditions and diseases have been observed in individuals who lived at Camp Lejeune during the time period when the drinking water was contaminated. Regular, prolonged exposure to the chemicals found in the water supply has been linked to the following cancers and conditions:

  • Lung cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Leukemia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Neurobehavioral issues
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Liver disease
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma
  • Decreased fertility
  • Miscarriages
  • Birth defects

If you lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days sometime between 1953 and 1987, and you were diagnosed with a disease or severe health condition, you might be able to seek compensation through a claim against the government.  

Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022

Matthew Minner, a Lexington, KY personal injury attorneyOn June 16, 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was passed by the United States Senate. Once signed into law by the President, the new bipartisan law will allow victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune to recover damages from the U.S. government. The bill also prohibits the U.S. government from exercising sovereign immunity to avoid liability in these cases.

From 2012 to now, under the Janey Ensminger Act, Camp Lejeune veterans and family members who developed specific health conditions after living on the base while the water was contaminated have been allowed to recover health benefits through Veterans Affairs. However, they have been barred from filing lawsuits against the government due to North Carolina’s statute of repose on polluters.

The statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations in that it limits the amount of time that a plaintiff is allowed to sue someone for negligence. However, unlike the statute of limitations in personal injury cases, the “clock” on the statute of repose begins ticking on the day the misconduct began. In North Carolina, there is a ten-year statute of repose on polluters.

Because the water contamination was not fully understood until the mid-1980s, people who were exposed to toxic chemicals while living on the base are time-barred from taking legal action. The new law will remove the legal barrier that has prevented so many victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina from having their day in court.

Still, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act does not automatically grant compensation to any of the plaintiffs in the Camp Lejeune lawsuit. If you lived at Camp Lejeune during the allotted time frame and were later diagnosed with cancer or another severe illness, you will still need to successfully prove your case in federal court to obtain financial relief. That’s why it is crucial to hire an aggressive, skilled attorney to handle your case.

Contact a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Attorney

Did you live at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days anytime between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987? If so, you should contact one of our seasoned Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit lawyers at Minner Vines Injury Lawyers, PLLC to find out how our Kentucky-based legal team can help you seek the compensation you deserve. We provide a free consultation so that you can get to know our team and understand the probable outcome of your case.