Camp Lejeune is famous as the home of the U.S. Marine Corps, but it’s also a place that has experienced one of the worst cases of water contamination in history. Drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with multiple carcinogenic chemicals, including trichloroethylene and benzene.
As a result of this contamination, about 130,000 current and former residents of Camp Lejeune has been suffering from cancer. Understanding what happened at Camp Lejeune and its effects on you can help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself from future harm.
What Happened at Camp Lejeune?
From the 1940s through the 1980s, the U.S. Marine Corps had a number of water treatment plants on-site at Camp Lejeune to process the drinking water. Unfortunately, these treatment plants cannot remove harmful contaminants from the water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also never inspect them.
Without any safety precautions in place, toxic chemicals from leaking underground fuel tanks, firefighting foam, and industrial solvents from nearby bases seeped into the groundwater. This contaminated the nearby water supply and made its way into the tap water for more than a million residents.
When the contamination came to light, the Marine Corps attempted to test for the presence of contaminants in the water. But the results are still not available. Instead, the Corps assured residents that their drinking water was safe for consumption. This was false, and the Corps has since been working to address the contamination. However, it will be decades before clean water is available to the Camp Lejeune community again.
How Was Water at Camp Lejeune Contaminated?
It’s first necessary to understand what types of contaminants in the water. The two most common contaminants found in the water supply at Camp Lejeune are trichloroethylene and benzene.
Trichloroethylene is a solvent for a variety of industrial purposes, such as degreasing or paint removal. It can cause liver, kidney, and nerve damage in humans. Benzene is a known carcinogen, meaning it causes cancer in lab animals. It has sparked concerns in the past due to its presence in many common household products, such as paint thinner.
Benzene can also leach into groundwater in similar ways as trichloroethylene. As a result of these harmful chemicals, many residents at Camp Lejeune got cancer or other diseases. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know how or when the water contamination affects you.
What Are the Effects of Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?
The effects of water contamination at Camp Lejeune can vary from person to person. However, the majority of people have been suffering from one or more diseases. While many residents were diagnosed with cancers. Others with non-cancerous diseases. Such as degenerative diseases of the central nervous system.
Overall, roughly 1,400 people have died from diseases related to water contamination at Camp Lejeune. While water contamination at Camp Lejeune does not affect everyone in the same way, and it may not affect everyone at all, it’s important to know that you may be at risk for harm.
Who Is At Risk for Harm Due to Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?
Anyone who lived at Camp Lejeune between the mid-1950s and the mid-1990s could have been exposed to contaminated water. This includes anyone who drank tap water, anyone who used it to shower or bathe, and anyone who used it to irrigate their lawns and gardens. Water contamination at Camp Lejeune is a widespread issue that affects many people.
If you were a resident of this area during this time frame, there’s a good chance that you were exposed to contaminated water. Some people are at a higher risk for harm than others. Children, who are still developing and have smaller bodies, are typically at a higher risk for harm from contaminants. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are also at a higher risk for harm.
Should You Hire a Lawyer?
If you believe that you may have been exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, you may want to hire a lawyer. While the Marine Corps has offered medical benefits to those affected by water contamination, the process for applying for these benefits is confusing and difficult to navigate alone. This can be especially true if you’re suffering from a degenerative disease, which can take years to manifest in full.
A lawyer can help you navigate the claims process and obtain the benefits you deserve. Regardless of the stage of your disease. Additionally, if you’re diagnosed with a disease as a result of water contamination at Camp Lejeune, a lawyer can help you file a claim for damages so that you can access the medical care and financial assistance you need. Consulting with a lawyer before you apply for benefits or file a claim is often the best way to ensure that you get the help that you need.