Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Attorneys
Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps base in Jacksonville, North Carolina. From 1953 to 1987, the water supply at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that have been linked to cancer and other severe conditions. During that time, hundreds of thousands of service members and civilians were exposed to dangerous chemicals, including PCE (perchloroethylene), TCE (trichloroethylene), vinyl chloride, and benzene through their drinking water.
If you were stationed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987, and you were later diagnosed with cancer or another severe illness, you could be entitled to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other non-financial losses thanks to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. For more information about the Camp Lejeune lawsuits and to determine your eligibility to participate, contact a New York Camp Lejeune lawsuit attorney at Hach & Rose, LLP for a free consultation.
Causes of Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
The water supply at Camp Lejeune first became contaminated in 1953. However, proper testing was not conducted on the base until the mid-1980s, and the most highly contaminated wells were not shut down until February 1985. The water contamination at Camp Lejeune primarily occurred at two water treatment facilities: the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant and the Hadnot Point water treatment plant. In addition to the four main VOCs found in the water at Camp Lejeune (PCE, TCE, vinyl chloride, and benzene), about 70 other secondary hazardous compounds were found in contaminated water wells.
PCE was the primary compound discovered in contaminated wells at the Tarawa Terrace water treatment facility. PCE is commonly used by dry cleaners. An off-base dry cleaning company called ABC One-Hour Cleaners failed to properly dispose of their chemical waste, which was allowed to seep into the groundwater near Camp Lejeune and eventually made its way to the Tarawa Terrace water treatment facility. The chemical, which is colorless, was later discovered in the treatment facility at levels far exceeding the EPA’s guidelines.
The main compound found at the Hadnot Point water treatment plant was TCE. TCE, like PCE, is a colorless liquid solvent. The EPA only permits extremely low levels of TCE in drinking water. The current limit is five μg/L (micrograms per liter), but the levels of TCE found in contaminated wells at the Hadnot Point water treatment plant were significantly elevated, reaching up to 1,400 μg/L. In addition to TCE, other VOCs were also found at the Hadnot Point water treatment facility, including vinyl chloride and benzene. DCE (dichloroethylene) was also found in contaminated Hadnot Point wells.
The water supply at the Hadnot Point water treatment facility was contaminated by numerous sources. Those sources included underground storage tank leaks, waste disposal zones, and chemical spills.
Rigorous testing was finally conducted in the 1980s, and in February 1985, the most significantly contaminated wells at both treatment facilities were shut down permanently. Unfortunately, it was far too late for the hundreds of thousands of individuals who resided and worked at Camp Lejeune during the 30-plus years when the water supply was contaminated. As a result of the water contamination, many veterans, members of their families, and civilian staff at the camp later developed serious conditions, including many different types of cancer.
Health Conditions Caused by Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Exposure to the toxic VOCs found in the water supply at Camp Lejeune has been linked to a broad range of serious conditions in individuals who lived and worked on the base. Some of the diseases and conditions that have been observed in service members and others who were stationed at the camp from 1953 to 1987 include:
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Liver cancer and liver disease
- Prostate cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Renal toxicity
- Multiple myeloma
- Hepatic steatosis
- Birth defects
- Decreased fertility
- Neurobehavioral issues
- Parkinson’s disease
If you were diagnosed with any of the above conditions or another serious illness that you believe was caused by drinking contaminated water at Camp Lejeune during the allotted time frame, you might qualify for a lawsuit against the federal government.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act was recently passed by the United States Senate as part of a larger package known as the PACT Act. It is expected to be signed into law by President Biden. For the first time, victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune will be allowed to have their day in court.
The law permits anyone who was stationed at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, to file a lawsuit against the government in federal court if they were diagnosed with cancer or another serious health issue. This will allow countless service members and civilians who lived at the camp to recover compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and non-financial losses, such as physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Until this year, Camp Lejeune water contamination victims have been time-barred from bringing a claim in federal court by North Carolina’s statute of repose on polluters. In 2012, President Obama signed the Janey Ensminger Act into law, which allowed family members of Camp Lejeune veterans to obtain healthcare benefits through Veterans Affairs (VA) if they were diagnosed with a qualifying condition after living at Camp Lejeune during the allotted time period.
However, this act did not grant victims the right to take legal action. In North Carolina, there is a ten-year statute of repose on polluters. The statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations, except that the legal clock begins ticking on the day the misconduct or negligence first begins. By the time the water contamination was discovered at Camp Lejeune, the state’s ten-year period of repose had long passed.
As a result, victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune have been time-barred from filing a lawsuit until now. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act will lift that restriction, allowing lawsuits to begin.
Contact a New York Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Attorney Today
If you lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, contact the New York Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyers of Hach & Rose, LLP today to discuss your legal options. We have the resources to determine your eligibility for filing a lawsuit, gather evidence in support of your case, take your case through the federal legal process, negotiate a settlement on your behalf, and provide aggressive representation in court, if necessary.
Call us at (212) 779-0057 for a free, no-risk consultation.