Almost everyone is aware of the contaminated waters at Camp Lejeune and the health hazards that veterans and their family members had to face. The ones who were exposed to the toxic waters in this region suffered from miscarriages, cancer, and other life-threatening diseases.
But as we stand in 2024, are the waters in Camp Lejeune safe to drink? The answer is yes, and people can use the water to bathe and for other purposes as well. Even though the harmful solvents and harsh toxins were cleaned up, no one can deny the unfortunate fate of civilians, service members, and their relatives, whose health suffered immensely.
In this article, we will delve into the challenging conditions because of the toxic waters, the legal remedy available, and the future of the water at the base.
What Caused Water Contamination in Camp Lejeune?
Between 1953 and 1987, Camp Lejeune witnessed severe water contamination because of the infusion of harsh chemicals. Several water sources that the base used had been affected. The pollutants inside the water comprised the following:
- Vinyl chloride
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
According to the records, PCE was the principal contaminant in a water source when one off-base dry cleaner failed to dispose of the perchloroethylene. The chemical made it to the wells and water streams that served the Tarawa Terrace system.
Chances are that this contamination started in 1953 and carried on for many years after that. The authorities reported that they could trace the Hadnot Point water treatment plant as another source of contamination.
All this made the drinking water at Camp Lejeune highly unsafe for consumption. But not many were aware of it. As a result, when the veterans and residents of this region used the water to clean, shower, and cook, the chemicals entered their bodies and led to fatal ailments.
TorHoerman Law states that Camp Lejeune waters were affected because of the presence of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which resulted in severe ailments. Some of the health hazards include Parkinson’s disease and even fertility issues in women. Even though several people had filed their complaints with the Department of Veterans Affairs, only a few received the settlements, and most experienced denial.
Getting the Water Cleaned
Presently, it is safe to consume and use the waters at Camp Lejeune. However, it took ample time for the past condition to improve. The moment the authorities noticed any contamination, they began sourcing water from multiple locations and assessing it correctly.
A report by the USMC (United States Marine Corps) suggests that people can drink this water now. The initiatives to clean up the water started in March 1987 and have brought about a positive change. Additionally, other reports shared by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the GAO (General Accountability Office) support this claim.
The officials take it upon themselves to assess the condition of drinking water in this region every quarter. The federal law states that frequent analysis is the need of the hour. Even though the initiatives are commendable and making a difference, for the ones who already got exposed to TCE and PCE, the efforts seemed to have started a tad bit late.
Health Hazards Caused By Camp Lejeune Toxic Waters
Every person who has been affected by the tainted waters at Camp Lejeune was diagnosed with debilitating ailments at a later stage in their lives. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) identifies the following medical conditions and diseases as an after-effect of the water contamination:
- Adult leukemia
- Multiple myeloma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Hepatic steatosis
- Liver cancer
- Renal toxicity
- Breast cancer
- Female infertility
- Esophageal cancer
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Lung cancer
Most or a few of these ailments have led to increased medical bills and ongoing health issues for the veterans and civilians in this region. If you are one of them, it is necessary to get a medical assessment and treatment. After that, you can file a lawsuit using the medical evidence and seek compensation.
Filing the Lawsuit on Time
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 enables the victims to take legal action for all their suffering and pain, but the time for responding is limited. Based on the regulations, those who are eligible to file a complaint have only two years to do so. In case they get late in filing their lawsuit, they might not receive the cash that they have been waiting for several years.
Hence, if you think that your complaint is valid, it is necessary to file a lawsuit with the help of an expert lawyer. Other than making the correct use of the evidence you provide them with, they also ensure you get fair compensation. Even though it’s not fixed, the Camp Lejeune lawsuit payout per person can range between $10,000 and $1,000,000 based on the case’s strength.
The Condition of the Water Today and Its Future
It was on October 4th, 1989, that Camp Lejeune made it to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). It led to a collaborative initiative between the EPA, the Navy, and NCDEQ (North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality) to alleviate the toxic water in this region.
The cleaning-up process posed many challenges because the contaminants were spread across many areas and took several years to resolve. The initial phase involved doing away with the drums, toxic storage tanks, contaminated soil, dangerous liquids, and batteries. Furthermore, procedures like electrical resistance heating and chemical oxidation were used to remove contaminants from the ground and water.
The Superfund program must urge the NCDEQ, Navy, and EPA to assess the clean-up policies and initiatives every five years to ensure that they are being conducted appropriately. The next review is tentatively, in 2025.
To wrap up, the water at Camp Lejeune has been cleaned and is currently safe for consumption. But the ones who have already been affected by the toxic waters shouldn’t take their suffering lightly. They must get a medical diagnosis to prove that the contaminated water causes their physical suffering. Once that is done, they can seek legal assistance and receive the compensation they deserve to cover their damages.