Between 1953 and 1987, a minimum of one million enlisted service members, their families, and civilian staff were poisoned by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune's military base in North Carolina. Scientific and medical evidence proves an association between exposure to these contaminants and the development of specific diseases, producing what some scientists have called the worst public drinking-water contamination in America’s history.
Their debilitating diagnoses expose the heartbreaking stories of these service members and their families. The government had done little to remedy this injustice, but recent legislation gave Camp Lejeune water contamination victims some legal options.
Camp LeJeune history
Camp Lejeune was a military training facility that opened in 1942 and housed more than one million men, women, and children during its course of operation. At one point, Camp Lejeune was a solid base for the Marines, serving as one of the Marine Corp’s busiest and largest bases. Stretching across North Carolina’s coastline, Camp Lejeune covered 156,000 acres of Jacksonville.
Over three decades, toxic chemical agents entered the soil at base junkyards, fuel depots, and a local dry cleaner. Records show that the Marines dumped oil and industrial wastewater in storm drains while burying potentially radioactive materials on the site. Additionally, Camp Lejeune ran a daycare center in a former malaria control shop where pesticides were mixed and stored.
The most significant source of water contamination was a neighboring dry-cleaning business that dumped wastewater tainted with chemicals used in dry cleaning. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR, they introduced these chemicals into the water supply at 440 times safe levels.
After 34 years of known water pollution, it was not until 1982 that the American government admitted that volatile organic compounds were found in the drinking water in residential areas and training facilities at Camp LeJeune. They also recognized that from 1953 to 1987, service members and their families drank, cooked, bathed, and swam in water contaminated with dangerously high levels of cancer-causing chemicals.
Legal options for Camp LeJeune victims
If you served at Camp LeJeune and have a current diagnosis of one of the conditions listed below, you may qualify for disability benefits. Alternatively, you may be able to file a lawsuit for compensation.
To qualify for disability benefits, you must have served at Camp LeJeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1953 through December 1987. Additionally, you must not have received a dishonorable discharge when you separated from the military. Veterans, reservists, and guardsmen may qualify for disability benefits associated with Camp LeJeune water contamination.
Qualifying presumptive conditions include:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Breast cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Esophageal cancer
- Hepatic steatosis
- Lung cancer
- Female infertility
- Renal toxicity
- Cardiac defects
The Camp LeJeune Justice Act
Those affected by the contaminated water have primarily been denied health care benefits and other forms of compensation. The Camp LeJeune Justice Act allows victims to file administrative claims and lawsuits seeking compensation for the damage they have experienced.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act is a piece of legislation included in a larger bill to compensate veterans for exposure to toxic chemicals. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows any person at Camp LeJeune for a minimum of 30 days between 1953 and 1987 to file a compensation claim.
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