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Who Is Responsible For Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

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The water at Camp Lejeune, a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina, was contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the 1950s to 1985, putting as many as one million military and civilian staff and their families at risk. The contamination was caused by factors such as industrial spills, leaking storage tanks, and improper disposal of hazardous materials. The responsibility for the water contamination lies with the Marine Corps, which failed to take appropriate action despite warnings and evidence of contamination. Victims exposed to the contaminated water may be eligible for compensation if they meet certain criteria.


Camp Lejeune, a U.S. Marine Corps Base located in North Carolina, has been at the center of one of the most significant water contamination incidents in American history. From the 1950s through February 1985, as many as one million military personnel and civilian staff members along with their families were exposed to contaminated drinking water on this base.

The discovery of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, and other contaminants in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water led to serious health consequences for those who lived or worked there during that period. The exposure put them at risk for various illnesses including cancers, adverse birth outcomes, kidney disease, liver damage, and neurological disorders.

As news about these health risks emerged over time, the victims affected by this tragedy sought justice through legal means. The lawsuits surrounding the Camp Lejeune water contamination have aimed to hold responsible parties accountable while providing compensation for those impacted by their negligence. This article will delve into further details regarding how this unfortunate incident occurred and shed light on some frequently asked questions related to seeking compensation.

Causes of Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune, a United States Marine Corps base located in North Carolina, experienced significant water contamination that put the health and well-being of its residents and personnel at risk. Several factors contributed to this contamination:

1. Industrial Area Spills:

The improper handling and disposal of hazardous substances within the industrial areas on the base played a major role in contaminating the water supply. Chemical spills from manufacturing processes or storage facilities seeped into groundwater sources.

2. Leaking Underground Storage Tanks:

Leakage from underground storage tanks used for storing fuel, solvents, and other chemicals further contaminated both surface waters as well as drinking water wells on-site.

3. Improper Disposal of Radioactive Materials:

Improper burial practices were followed by military officials when disposing radioactive materials such as uranium-238 during testing procedures conducted on dogs utilized for research purposes. This resulted in these harmful substances infiltrating into soil layers which eventually made their way into nearby aquifers supplying drinking water to Camp LeJeune’s population.

4. Role Of Nearby Dry Cleaning Business:

One notable source contributing significantly to the contamination was an off-base dry cleaning business situated near Tarawa Terrace housing area. The wastewater generated through their operations contained high levels of tetrachloroethylene (PCE), a suspected carcinogen commonly known as perchlorethylene. This chemical compound is widely employed in dry-cleaning processes. It has been linked with various adverse effects including liver damage, kidney problems, and even cancer. Unfortunately, the owners chose not to dispose of the waste properly, resulting in dumping it into drains connected directly to the surrounding environment. These contaminants then found their way into the water supplies at Camp LeJeune through groundwater infiltration and contaminated wells used for providing safe potable water to the residents.

These combined factors led to widespread pollution throughout Camp Lejeune’s water system, affecting both surface and groundwater sources. The contamination persisted for an extended period before being discovered in 1982.

It is important to note that the Marine Corps was aware of these issues but failed to take immediate action or investigate the source of contamination until years later. This negligence resulted in prolonged exposure and potential health risks for those living and working at Camp Lejeune.

The responsibility lies with multiple parties involved, including military officials responsible for waste disposal practices on-site as well as regulatory agencies overseeing environmental protection measures. Efforts have been made since then to address this issue through legal actions seeking compensation for affected individuals who suffered adverse health effects due to their exposure.

Responsibility for the Water Contamination

The responsibility for the water contamination at Camp Lejeune lies with the United States Marine Corps. It has been revealed that they were aware of the contamination for a staggering 17 years before notifying veterans and their families about it.

During this period, thousands of military personnel, civilian workers, and their families living or working on base were unknowingly exposed to contaminated drinking water. The Marine Corps failed to take appropriate action in investigating and addressing the issue despite warnings from experts.

Source of Contamination

One significant source of contamination was a nearby dry cleaning business that dumped wastewater filled with chemicals used in dry cleaning into drains. These chemicals included tetrachloroethylene (PCE), which is classified as a suspected carcinogen by various health organizations. Marines at Camp Lejeune regularly used this substance for cleaning purposes without knowing its harmful effects.

In addition to industrial area spills and leaking underground storage tanks, improper disposal practices such as dumping oil and industrial wastewater into storm drains further contributed to contaminating the water supply at Camp Lejeune. Even radioactive materials were improperly disposed of within close proximity to vital groundwater sources.

Criticism and Withholding of Information

Criticism has been directed towards the Marine Corps due to their withholding information regarding these contaminants from regulatory agencies like Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They provided inaccurate information during inquiries conducted by EPA officials who sought accurate data concerning levels of chemical pollutants present in drinking water systems on-base.

This failure not only put those stationed or residing there at risk but also hindered efforts made by external authorities trying address potential risks associated with exposure over an extended period.

Health Impacts of the Contaminated Water

Exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has had severe health consequences for individuals living or working on the base. The specific illnesses and conditions associated with this exposure are numerous, ranging from cancers to birth defects and other serious medical conditions.


The contaminants found in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune include trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, benzene, and various volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These substances have been linked to a wide range of health issues when consumed over an extended period.

Studies have shown that those exposed to these contaminants may be more susceptible to developing certain types of cancer such as:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer (even among non-smokers)
  • Prostate cancer
  • Breast cancer (in both males and females)
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Leukemia (including myelodysplastic syndromes)
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma

Birth Defects and Other Adverse Outcomes

Apart from cancers, birth defects also pose a major concern for those who were exposed during pregnancy. The occurrence rate was higher than expected compared with national rates. Other adverse outcomes like neurological disorders and developmental delays can occur due to prenatal exposures.

It is important, however, to note that establishing a definitive link between exposure at Camp Lejeune and these specific illnesses can sometimes be challenging. Scientific research into understanding how exactly each contaminant affects human health continues. Therefore, it becomes crucially important to consult healthcare professionals if you suspect any symptoms related to contamination.

If you believe your illness or condition is a result of exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, it is essential to seek medical attention and consult with legal professionals who specialize in these cases. They can help determine if you meet the criteria for compensation under current laws.

The long-term health impacts of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune are still being studied, but there is no denying that many individuals have suffered serious consequences as a result. It remains crucial for those affected by this contamination to stay informed about ongoing research efforts and take appropriate steps towards seeking justice and compensation.

Lawsuits and Compensation

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune has had devastating effects on the health of those who were exposed to the contaminated drinking water. As a result, victims may be eligible for compensation if they meet certain criteria set by law.

Filing a Claim

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

  1. Parkinson’s disease
  2. Kidney cancer
  3. Leukemias (all types, including myelodysplastic syndromes)
  4. Liver cancer
  5. Bladder cancer
  6. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  7. Multiple myeloma
  8. Kidney disease (end-stage renal disease)
  9. Systemic sclerosis / scleroderma
  10. Cardiac birth defects
  11. Esophageal Cancer
  12. Male breast cancer
  13. Lung Cancer (if non-smoker)
  14. Miscarriage
  15. Hepatic Steatosis (Fatty Liver Disease)
  16. Female infertility
  17. Neurobehavioral effects
  18. Non-cardiac birth defects (eye defects, oral clefts, neural tube defects, etc.)
  19. Female breast cancer
  20. Cervical cancer
  21. Hodgkin’s disease
  22. Ovarian cancer
  23. Prostate cancer
  24. Rectal cancer
  25. Brain cancer
  26. Liver cirrhosis
  27. Soft Tissue Cancer
  28. Hypersensitivity Skin Disorder
  29. Aplastic anemia

Alternatively, individuals can also qualify if they have been diagnosed with another injury or serious medical condition not listed above.

The Importance of Legal Representation

It is important to note that legal representation plays a crucial role in seeking compensation for victims affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination issue. Having an experienced attorney specializing in these types of cases can greatly increase the chances of a successful claim. A lawyer will guide victims through the legal process, gather necessary evidence, and advocate for their rights.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with any of the listed injuries after exposure at Camp Lejeune, it is crucial to consult with an attorney who specializes in water contamination lawsuits. They can provide guidance on whether you meet the eligibility criteria for compensation and help navigate through complex legal procedures.

Remember that time limitations may apply when filing claims related to water contamination issues. Therefore, seeking legal advice as soon as possible is highly recommended to protect your rights and ensure timely action.

By pursuing compensation for damages caused by this preventable tragedy, individuals affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination have an opportunity to seek justice and receive financial support towards medical expenses, loss wages, and other hardships they have endured due to no fault of their own.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What is the Camp Lejeune water contamination issue?

The Camp Lejeune water contamination issue refers to the discovery of contaminated drinking water at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. From the 1950s through February 1985, specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, and other contaminants were found in the drinking water supplied by two of the eight treatment plants on base.

Question 2: Who was affected by this contamination?

As many as one million military personnel, civilian workers, and their families who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during that period may have been exposed to these harmful substances through their consumption of contaminated drinking water.

Question 3: What are some health consequences associated with exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune?

Exposure to these contaminants has been linked to various serious health conditions including Parkinson’s disease, kidney cancer, leukemias (including myelodysplastic syndromes), liver cancer bladder cancer non-Hodgkin lymphoma multiple myeloma kidney 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 female breast cancers cervical cancers Hodgkin’s diseases ovarian cancers prostate rectal brain cirrhosis soft tissue hypersensitivity skin disorders aplastic anemia among others.

Question 4: How can I apply for a free claim review if I believe I’ve been affected by this contamination?

If you have experienced any injuries or illnesses listed above after being exposed to contaminated water while living or working at Camp Jejueun between those specified years, you might be eligible for compensation. To determine your eligibility, you can apply for a free claim review. The criteria to qualify for the claim review include being diagnosed with one of the specified injuries or having been diagnosed with another injury not listed above.

Question 5: Do I need legal representation to seek compensation?

Having legal representation is highly recommended when seeking compensation in cases like these. A lawyer experienced in handling claims related to Camp Lejeune water contamination will have knowledge and expertise necessary to navigate through complex legal processes and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the entire process.


  1. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/background.html
  2. https://www.nyaccidentlawyer.com/how-did-the-water-at-camp-lejeune-become-contaminated/
  3. https://stlawco.gov/Departments/Veterans/CampLejeuneWaterContaminationHistory