After years of remedy, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune is now safe to drink and is no longer contaminated. The Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy carried out cleanup activities to restore clean water to the base.
Read on to learn more about what led to the contaminated water and what to do if you or a loved one was diagnosed with a health condition after serving or living at Camp Lejeune. The Thumbs Up Guys are ready to help in any way we can.
What Caused the Contaminated Water?
A dry cleaner outside of the base, ABC One-Hour Cleaners, improperly disposed of their waste which was close enough to the base to contaminate the water supply. As it was a dry cleaning company, there were many toxic chemicals present. These were:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
- Vinyl chloride (VC)
All of these chemicals are harmful and are not intended for human consumption in any form. TCE is an industrial solvent, PCE is a fabric cleaner, VC is a gas used to make polymer, and Benzene is a flammable liquid present in gasoline.
These chemicals contaminated the water throughout the base, which caused temporary and lifelong illnesses for thousands of people. These illnesses range from several forms of cancer to Parkinson’s Disease.
When Did the Water Stop Being Contaminated?
According to a United States Marine Corps water study, the water has been safe to drink since 1987. The base shut down the most contaminated wells in 1985, a short period after the Marine Corps’ discovery of the contamination.
Of course, this was the initial contamination, and the cleanup process further addressed the remaining contamination.
What Was the Cleanup Process Like?
As we mentioned earlier, the most contaminated water wells were shut down in 1987. However, the U.S. Navy was responsible for the cleanup activities that began in 1992. The cleanup process consisted of 4 phases:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the first phase of cleanup started in 1992 and ended in 2001. The primary focus of this phase was removing the surface-level contaminants. These included items like contaminated surface soil, containers of chemicals, storage tanks, and liquids that don’t dissolve naturally.
After removing the surface contaminants, the Navy conducted further water studies to identify more contamination. Then they installed a groundwater treatment system and a bio-treatment cell.
Electrical Resistance Heating
The next phase lasted from 2001 to 2009. This involved the Navy conducting a study using electrical resistance heating (ERH) to extract additional liquids that don’t dissolve naturally. ERH is the use of an alternating current of electricity which heats the harmful chemicals and evaporates them.
After the ERH process was complete, the Navy removed 48,000 pounds of harmful gases from the soil. This significantly reduced the risk of the chemicals harming nearby residents.
Water Treatment System Installations
The third phase, from 2010 to 2015, focused on installing a number of water treatment systems at dozens of the contaminated sites. At one site within Camp Lejeune, the Navy installed a layered and non-penetrable cap to prevent any harmful gases or chemicals from traveling into the air.
Another method that the Navy used to control the remaining contamination in this phase is natural attenuation. Natural attenuation is the process of naturally dissolving or decreasing the harmful contaminants through nature. Common examples of natural attenuation include:
- Bugs or microbes eating chemicals and turning them into water
- Soil absorbing the chemicals to prevent them from being released into the air
- Contaminants mixing with clean water to dilute them
- Sunlight destroying chemicals that evaporate into the air
Minimizing Human Exposure
The final phase began in 2016 and ended in 2019, focusing on controlling the leftover contaminants and preventing them from posing a risk to the public. The pollutants that were left did not pose a serious risk to the environment or surrounding residents.
With the help of the Marine Corps and the Navy, Camp Lejeune’s water supply is no longer toxic to the community. Despite the low risk, the EPA requires a review and report every 5 years of the sites to ensure there are no new risks. The most recent review was in 2020, and the results stated that the actions would protect the community for the long term.
Can You Still File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
Although time has passed, you can still file a lawsuit if you were affected by the contaminated water. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) allows you to file a lawsuit until Aug. 10, 2024. Even though this date is still far away, our lawyers encourage you to file as soon as you can.
If you haven’t already, you should seek medical care to assess any injuries or health conditions you may have. After you receive a diagnosis, we can use your medical records as evidence in your Camp Lejeune water contamination case.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
After you’ve been a Camp Lejeune water contamination victim, you have a legal right to recover damages to help you cover the costs you must pay. The Thumbs Up Guys can help you recover economic and non-economic damages such as:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of earning capacity
- Accidental amputation
- Physical therapy
You could be eligible for additional damages if you have severe injuries or a lifelong health condition. One of our Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit lawyers can help you discover what damages you can recover in a free case consultation.
Are You Eligible for Veterans Disability Benefits?
In addition to damages, you could be eligible for Veterans Affairs disability benefits. These benefits can help you cover any costs that your compensation may not cover. To be eligible for VA benefits, you must have:
- Served a minimum of 30 days at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River in North Carolina between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987.
- Not received a dishonorable discharge.
You must also have one or more of the health conditions associated with Camp Lejeune contamination. These conditions include:
- Adult lymphoma
- Other myelodysplastic diseases than aplastic anemia
- Urethral cancer
- Renal cancer
- Liver tumor
- Multiple myeloma
- Nodular lymphoma
- Parkinson’s condition
Let Us Answer Your Camp Lejeune Case Questions
The Thumbs Up Guys know how traumatic it can be to be diagnosed with a lifelong illness after serving as a troop at Camp Lejeune. We can help you determine if you qualify to file a water contamination lawsuit or receive VA disability benefits.
Call us or fill out the contact form on our website to learn more about Camp Lejeune water contamination.