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What Poisoned The Water At Camp Lejeune?

Quick Answer

The water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina was contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, and other contaminants from the 1950s through February 1985. The contamination was primarily caused by waste disposal practices at an off-base dry cleaning firm and leaking underground storage tanks. As a result, residents, civilian workers, Marines, and Naval personnel at Camp Lejeune were put at risk and may have suffered serious health consequences, including an increased risk of cancers, adverse birth outcomes, and other adverse health effects. Compensation and support are available for victims who meet certain criteria.

Introduction

Camp Lejeune, a U.S. Marine Corps Base located in North Carolina, has been at the center of a water contamination issue that has affected thousands of military personnel and their families. From the 1950s through February 1985, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with several harmful chemicals.

The specific chemicals found in the water included trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VC), benzene, and other contaminants. These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are known to have detrimental effects on human health when ingested or exposed to over an extended period.

Exposure to these toxic substances put individuals living or working at Camp Lejeune at risk for serious health consequences. As many as one million military staff members and civilians may have been exposed during this time frame.

The potential health risks associated with exposure to contaminated water include various types of cancer such as kidney cancer, liver cancer bladder cancer non-Hodgkin lymphoma multiple myeloma lung cancer if you were not a smoker prostate breast cervical ovarian rectal brain leukemia Parkinson’s disease birth defects miscarriage infertility neurobehavioral effects hepatic steatosis soft tissue cancers hypersensitivity skin disorders aplastic anemia among others listed by law.

It is important for those who lived or worked on base between August 1st, 1953 – December 31st, 1987, to be aware of these risks and take appropriate action if they believe they may have been impacted by this environmental hazard.

Causes of Water Contamination

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina was primarily caused by several sources. One significant contributor to the pollution was ABC One-Hour Cleaners, an off-base dry cleaning firm. The waste disposal practices of this establishment led to the release of trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, and other contaminants into the groundwater.

Additionally, leaking underground storage tanks played a role in contaminating the water supply. These tanks contained various substances that seeped into the soil and eventually reached nearby wells used for drinking water.

Contamination at Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point

Two specific areas within Camp Lejeune were heavily impacted by these pollutants – Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point. The Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant became contaminated with PCE due to its proximity to one of ABC’s waste sites. On the other hand, TCE infiltrated the Hadnot Point water treatment plant as a result of leakage from fuel storage facilities located nearby.

Other Sources of Contamination

Apart from these primary sources mentioned above, there were also instances where industrial area spills occurred on base or near it which further contributed to polluting both surface waters and groundwater supplies around Camp Lejeune. Waste disposal sites scattered throughout camp premises added another layer of contamination risk through improper handling or inadequate containment measures.

Health Effects of Contaminated Water

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune had severe health consequences for residents, civilian workers, Marines, and Naval personnel who were exposed to the contaminated drinking water. The presence of trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VC), benzene, and other contaminants in the water put individuals at risk for various adverse health effects.

Risk of Cancers

One of the most significant risks associated with exposure to these chemicals is an increased likelihood of developing cancers. Studies have shown that those exposed to TCE or PCE may face a higher risk of:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Lung cancer (if non-smoker)
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Male breast cancer
  • Female breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Soft tissue cancer
  • Hypersensitivity skin disorder
  • Aplastic anemia

In addition to cancers, birth outcomes among pregnant women living on base during this time period were also affected by exposure. The children born from mothers who consumed contaminated tap water while being pregnant faced elevated rates of certain serious medical conditions such as low birth weight, preterm delivery, and infant mortality.

It is important to note that much information regarding the health effects of these chemicals is derived from animal studies or research conducted on workers who use them in their workplaces. Therefore, the available data is limited when it comes to persons exposed to the substances through drinking water. However, given the known toxicity of the components found in the water at Camp Lejeune, it is reasonable to conclude that significant health risks are associated with exposure.

The long-term health effects of exposure to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune are still being studied. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has been assessing the effects of VOCs in drinking water since 1993. They continue to monitor and research the potential health consequences associated with this contamination.

If you or a loved one were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and have experienced any of these adverse health effects, it is important to seek medical attention promptly. Additionally, individuals who meet certain criteria may be eligible for compensation through legal avenues if they qualify by meeting specific injury requirements set by law.

Compensation and Support for Victims

If you or a loved one were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, it is important to understand that there may be compensation available. The government recognizes the serious health consequences of this exposure and has established criteria for eligibility.

Qualifying Injuries

To qualify for compensation, individuals must have been diagnosed with one of the following injuries after exposure at Camp LeJeune:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemias (all types, including myelodysplastic syndromes)
  • Liver cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Kidney disease (end-stage renal disease)
  • Systemic sclerosis / scleroderma
  • Cardiac birth defects
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Male breast cancer
  • Lung Cancer (if non-smoker)
  • Miscarriage
  • Hepatic Steatosis (Fatty Liver Disease)
  • Female infertility
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-cardiac birth defects (eye defects, oral clefts, neural tube defects, etc)
  • Female breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Soft Tissue Cancer
  • Hypersensitivity Skin Disorder
  • Aplastic anemia

Alternatively, if someone was diagnosed with another injury not listed above but believes it is related to their exposure at Camp Lejeune, they may still be eligible. It could include any type of cancer, some other medical condition, or even a serious injury.

Presumptive Service Connection

It’s worth noting that veterans who served in active duty between August 1st, 1953, and December 31st, 1987, are also covered by presumptive service connection provided by the Department Of Veterans Affairs (VA). This means certain diseases will automatically be considered as connected to military service without having to prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship. The VA provides cost-free healthcare services for these conditions, which includes adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Parkinson’s disease.

Taking Action

If you or your family member meet the criteria for compensation and support, it is important to take action. Contacting your primary care provider and filing a claim with the VA can help ensure that you receive the necessary medical attention and financial assistance.

The process of applying for compensation may seem daunting, but there are resources available to guide you through it. The Department of Veterans Affairs has dedicated staff who specialize in assisting individuals affected by water contamination at Camp Lejeune. They can provide information on how to file a claim properly and answer any questions or concerns you may have along the way.

Remember, if you believe that exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has had an impact on your health or well-being, don’t hesitate! Reach out today so that proper steps can be taken towards receiving compensation and support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: How long did the contamination last?

Answer:
The water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina was contaminated with various chemicals from the 1950s through February 1985. This means that for several decades, individuals living or working on the base were exposed to these contaminants.

Question 2: How many people were affected by the water contamination?

Answer:
It is estimated that as many as one million military and civilian staff members and their families may have been exposed to the contaminated drinking water during this period. The large number of individuals stationed at Camp Lejeune over those years contributed to a significant potential impact on health.

Question 3: What steps have been taken to address the issue of water contamination at Camp Lejeune?

Answer:
Once discovered, efforts were made to investigate and mitigate further exposure risks. In response to concerns about past exposures, comprehensive studies have been conducted by agencies such as ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) in collaboration with other organizations like CDC (Centers for Disease Control). These studies aimed not only towards understanding health effects but also providing support services where necessary.

Additionally, there has been legislation enacted specifically addressing compensation claims related to illnesses caused by exposure while residing or working at Camp Lejeune during specific periods when contaminant levels exceeded safety standards set forth under federal regulations.

Question 4: How can individuals apply for compensation if they believe they are eligible due to being affected by Camp Lejeune’s poisoned waters?

Answer:
Individuals who believe they may be eligible for compensation need first meet certain criteria established under law before applying. To qualify, applicants must provide evidence showing a diagnosis of any injuries listed below after having had direct contact via residence/employment within premises subjecting them into risk factors associated therein:

  • Parkinson disease
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemias including myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Liver cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Kidney disease (end-stage renal disease)
  • Systemic sclerosis / scleroderma
  • Cardiac birth defects
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Male breast cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Hepatic Steatosis
  • Female infertility
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-cardiac birth defects such as eye, oral clefts or neural tube defect etc.
  • Female breast cancers
  • Cervical cancers
  • Hodgkins
  • Ovarian
  • Prostate
  • Rectum
  • Brain
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Soft Tissue
  • Hypersensitivity Skin Disorder
  • Aplastic anemia
  • OR alternatively, PC must have been diagnosed with another Injury after exposure at Camp LeJeune: Any type of serious medical condition not listed above.

Once eligibility is determined, individuals can proceed to file a claim for compensation through the appropriate channels and agencies responsible for handling these cases. It’s important to note that each case will be evaluated on its own merits and supporting evidence should be provided when submitting a claim.

Question 5: What resources are available for more information on the health effects of the chemicals found in Camp Lejeune’s water?

Answer:
For further information regarding specific chemical contaminants found in Camp Lejeune’s water supply and their associated health risks, you may refer to reputable sources like ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry), CDC (Centers For Disease Control), or other government websites dedicated specifically towards providing comprehensive details about this issue. These organizations provide valuable insights into studies conducted thus far along with ongoing research efforts aimed at better understanding long-term impacts resulting from exposure incidents related thereto.

References

  1. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/background.html
  2. https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/
  3. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/chem_descriptions.html