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What Was In The Drinking Water At Camp Lejeune?

Quick Answer

The drinking water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina was contaminated with industrial solvents and benzene from the 1950s through the 1980s, putting military personnel, civilian workers, and their families at risk of serious health consequences. As many as one million people may have been exposed to the contaminated water, leading to various health conditions. Veterans and their family members who were exposed may be eligible for cost-free healthcare and reimbursement of medical expenses for certain health conditions.

Introduction

The drinking water at Camp Lejeune, a U.S. Marine Corps Base located in North Carolina, was contaminated with industrial solvents and benzene from the 1950s through the 1980s. This contamination put military personnel, civilian workers, and their families at risk of serious health consequences.

The issue is of significant importance as it is estimated that as many as one million people may have been exposed to the contaminated water during this time period. The contaminants found in the drinking water included trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, benzene, and other harmful substances.

This blog post aims to provide comprehensive information about the water contamination at Camp Lejeune including an overview of its causes and sources. Additionally, it will discuss various health conditions associated with exposure to these contaminants such as cancers (kidney cancer, liver cancer, bladder cancer, etc.), adverse birth outcomes, and other adverse effects on human health. Furthermore, the eligibility criteria for compensation claims related to injuries or medical conditions resulting from exposure will be outlined along with details regarding healthcare benefits available for veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and their family members who were affected by this environmental disaster.

Contaminants in the Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune

The drinking water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina was contaminated with several harmful substances that posed significant health risks to those who were exposed. The primary contaminants found in the water included trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, benzene, and other toxic chemicals.

These contaminants entered the drinking water supply through various sources. One major contributor was leaking underground storage tanks that contained these hazardous substances. Additionally, industrial area spills and improper waste disposal practices also played a role in contaminating the groundwater.

Exposure to these contaminants had severe implications for human health. Studies have shown an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers among individuals who were exposed to this contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. These include kidney cancer, multiple myeloma, leukemias (including myelodysplastic syndromes), liver cancer, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as lung cancer (if they are nonsmokers). Other adverse effects associated with exposure include neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, neurobehavioral effects, birth defects, reproductive issues such as miscarriage or infertility, hepatic steatosis, cardiac abnormalities, systemic sclerosis/scleroderma, soft tissue cancers, aplastic anemia, hypersensitivity skin disorder, rectal cancer, brain cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, esophageal cancer, male breast cancer, female breast cancer, cirrhosis, oral clefts, neural tube defects, eye defects, etc.

It is important to note that most available information on the health effects of these specific drinking-water contaminants comes from animal studies or research conducted on workers who use similar chemicals within their workplace settings, rather than direct studies involving people exposed specifically via their tap water consumption patterns while residing or working near military installations where contamination occurred. This is primarily due to the fact that some cases involved off-base dry cleaning firms’ activities, which contributed significantly towards the overall pollution levels observed during investigations into the causes behind widespread contamination incidents at Camp Lejeune.

The contaminants found in the drinking water supply at Camp Lejeune posed a significant risk to the health and well-being of those who were exposed. The presence of TCE, PCE, vinyl chloride, benzene, and other toxic chemicals increased the likelihood of developing various cancers such as kidney cancer, multiple myeloma, leukemias, liver cancer, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung cancer (in nonsmokers), among others. Additionally, neurological disorders, reproductive issues, birth defects, cardiac abnormalities, systemic sclerosis/scleroderma, soft tissue cancers, aplastic anemia, hypersensitivity skin disorder, rectal cancer, brain cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, esophageal cancer, male breast cancer, female breast cancer, cirrhosis, oral clefts, neural tube defects, eye defects, etc., have also been associated with exposure to these contaminants.

It is crucial for individuals who lived or worked on base during this period to be aware of their potential exposure and seek appropriate medical attention if they experience any symptoms related to these conditions. Furthermore, it should be noted that not all cases will qualify under specific criteria set forth by law regarding eligibility requirements necessary before filing claims seeking compensation. This is primarily due to the fact that some instances involved off-base dry cleaning firms’ activities, which contributed significantly towards the overall pollution levels observed during investigations into the causes behind widespread contamination incidents occurring within the vicinity of military installations where affected populations resided or worked while being subjected directly via tap water consumption patterns over extended periods of time when exposures occurred most frequently leading up until the discovery made public knowledge about the extent of the problem faced by residents living near bases like Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.

Eligibility for Compensation and Healthcare Benefits

Criteria for compensation:

If you or a loved one were exposed to the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, you may be eligible for compensation if certain criteria are met. To qualify, individuals must have been diagnosed with specific injuries or conditions after exposure at Camp Lejeune. These include:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemias (all types, including myelodysplastic syndromes)
  • Liver cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • and many more.

These health conditions have been linked to the contaminants found in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune such as trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, benzene, and other harmful substances.

Criteria for healthcare benefits:

In addition to potential compensation claims, veterans who served at least 30 days between August 1st, 1953 through December 31st, 1987 either on active duty or reserve status can also apply for disability and healthcare benefits related to their exposure. Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) can provide assistance with filing these claims. The following is required when applying:

  • Military records showing service time spent specifically stationed within Camp Lejeune during this period of contamination.
  • Medical records that show a diagnosis of any condition listed above.

Process For Filing A Claim:

To file a claim seeking both compensation from liable parties responsible alongside VA benefit applications, follow the below steps:

Step One – Gather Documentation: Collect all relevant military documents proving your presence and duration of stay in Camp Lejeune. Also, gather medical documentation supporting your diagnosis, which should clearly indicate how it relates back directly to chemical exposures experienced while serving there.

Step Two – Contact Legal Representation If Needed: In some cases where legal representation might be needed due to complexity involved, especially when dealing with large entities like government agencies, it would be wise to consult with an attorney who specializes in military toxic exposure cases. They can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Step Three – File Your Claim: Once all necessary documentation is gathered, submit your claim for compensation or healthcare benefits. This may involve filling out specific forms provided by relevant agencies such as VA (Veterans Affairs), ATSDR (Agency For Toxic Substances And Disease Registry), etc. Ensure that all required information is included and follow any additional instructions given during this stage.

It’s important to note that each case will be evaluated individually based on its own merits. Therefore, it is always recommended to seek legal advice before proceeding further, especially when dealing with large entities like government agencies, etc.

By following these steps, individuals affected by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune can take action towards receiving the compensation they deserve while also accessing much-needed medical care related to their condition(s).

Additional Information and Support

The PACT Act:

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, also known as the PACT (Presumptive Conditions of Service at Camp Lejeune) Act, provides individuals with an avenue to seek appropriate relief for harm caused by exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. This act acknowledges the responsibility towards those who were exposed and aims to provide them with compensation and support.

VA Benefits and Assistance:

Veterans who served at least 30 days on active duty at Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River between August 1, 1953, and December 31,1987 may be eligible for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These benefits include cost-free healthcare services related to specific health conditions associated with exposure such as cancers (kidney cancer, bladder cancer), Parkinson’s disease, and other qualifying medical conditions.

To assist veterans in accessing these benefits, Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) are available. They can guide individuals through filing claims for VA benefits. Veterans should be cautious when approached by commercials from lawyers or law firms claiming they can help obtain Camp Lejeune benefits. The VA creates public service announcements about its benefit programs and does not sell products or charge for assistance with obtaining these benefits. If you suspect fraud, you can report it to the VA directly.

Family Member Eligibility:

It is important to note that family members who lived at Camp Lejeune during the specified dates may also be eligible for healthcare benefits through the Department of Veteran Affairs if they meet certain requirements. To qualify, family members must have resided on base for at least 30 days between August 1st, 1953 and December 31st, 1987. Additionally, they must submit a Camp Lejeune Family Member Program Application along with supporting documents, such as proof of relationship to a Veteran who served at Camp Lejeune and proof of residency on the base.

The VA can provide reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the 16 covered health conditions, including bladder cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, miscarriage, and neurobehavioral effects. It is important to gather all necessary documentation, such as marriage licenses or birth certificates showing dependent relationship to a veteran who served at Camp Lejeune and proof of residency on the base for 30 days or more between August 1st, 1953 and December 31st, 1987, to ensure eligibility for these benefits.

In conclusion, the PACT Act provides individuals with an opportunity to seek relief from exposure-related harm through appropriate channels. VA benefits are available for those who meet specific criteria and Veterans Service Officers are ready to provide assistance with filing claims. Family members may also be eligible for healthcare benefits if they resided at Camp Lejeune during the specified dates and meet the proper requirements. These additional resources aim to provide the support needed by those affected by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to navigate their way towards compensation and recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What were the contaminants found in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune?

Answer:
The drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with several hazardous substances, including trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, benzene, and other volatile organic compounds. These contaminants entered the water supply through various sources such as leaking underground storage tanks, industrial area spills, and waste disposal sites.

Question 2: What health conditions are associated with exposure to the contaminated water?

Answer:
Exposure to the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune has been linked to a range of serious health conditions. Some of these include Parkinson’s disease; kidney cancer; leukemias (all types); liver cancer; bladder cancer; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; multiple myeloma; end-stage renal disease or kidney disease requiring dialysis treatment;
systemic sclerosis/scleroderma ; cardiac birth defects ; esophageal Cancer ;
male breast cancer ; lung Cancer for nonsmokers only ;
miscarriage , hepatic steatosis/fatty Liver Disease,
female infertility ,
neurobehavioral effects,
non-cardiac birth defects like eye defects oral clefts neural tube defect etc.
Hypersensitivity Skin Disorder
Aplastic anemia
or any type of injury not listed above.

It is important to note that this list may not be exhaustive and individuals who have developed other medical conditions after exposure may still be eligible for compensation if they meet certain criteria set by law.

Question 3: Who is eligible for compensation and healthcare benefits?

Answer:
To qualify for compensation related to exposure at Camp Lejeune under current regulations:

  • Individuals must have served on active duty or resided/worked on base between August 1st, 1953 – December 31st, 1987.
  • They should also provide evidence of a diagnosis for one or more of the specific health conditions associated with exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

For healthcare benefits, veterans, reservists, and National Guard members who served at least 30 days between August 1st, 1953 – December 31st, 1987 may be eligible. Family members who lived on base during this period may also qualify under certain circumstances.

Question 4: How can individuals file a claim for compensation or healthcare benefits?

Answer:
To apply for free claim review:

  • Individuals should gather relevant documentation such as military records showing their service/residence/work history at Camp Lejeune.
  • They must have been diagnosed with one of the specified injuries/conditions after exposure.
  • The next step is to contact an attorney specializing in these cases or reach out directly to organizations that provide assistance in filing claims related to Camp Lejeune contamination. These entities will guide them through the process and help determine eligibility based on individual circumstances.

Question 5: What is the PACT Act and how does it provide relief for exposure to contaminated water?

Answer:
The PACT (Camp Lejeune Justice) Act allows victims exposed while living, working, or being otherwise present at Camp Lejeune for at least thirty days between August 1st and December 31st in any year from the period beginning in 1948 and ending on September 15th, 2012 to file for appropriate compensation relief. The act provides an opportunity to seek redress for the personal harm caused by exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune through various legal avenues without affecting eligibility for VA benefits related to Camp Lejeune.

Question 6: Can family members of veterans also receive healthcare benefits?

Answer:
Yes, family members of veterans who lived with them on the campus during the specified dates may also be eligible for some healthcare benefits if they meet certain requirements. They must be a family member of a veteran who served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River and have lived on the campus for at least 30 days. Proof of relationship with the veteran, such as marriage licenses or birth certificates, and proof of residency on base are typically required.

Question 7: How can individuals get assistance with filing claims for VA benefits?

Answer:
Individuals seeking assistance in filing claims for VA benefits related to Camp Lejeune should reach out to Veterans Service Officers (VSOs). These officers are trained professionals who provide free guidance and support throughout the claim process. They have expertise in navigating the complex requirements of submitting documentation, gathering evidence, and ensuring that all necessary information is included.

Question 8: What should individuals be cautious of when seeking help with obtaining Camp Lejeune benefits?

Answer:
It’s important for individuals to exercise caution when seeking help or representation regarding their Camp Lejeune benefit claims. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has issued warnings about commercials from lawyers or law firms claiming to assist with obtaining these specific benefits as they may not be affiliated with the official processes established by the VA. It is advisable always to verify credentials and seek assistance through recognized channels such as VSOs provided by reputable organizations associated directly with veterans’ affairs.

References

  1. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/background.html
  2. https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/camp-lejeune-water-contamination/
  3. https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/