For over three decades, from 1953-1987, water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with several hazardous chemicals linked to a range of serious health conditions and life-threatening illnesses, including miscarriages, birth defects and cancers. The toxic contamination was due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that leaked from waste disposal sites, underground storage tanks and businesses into the main water supply – specifically:
- dry cleaning solvents
- chemicals used on heavy machinery
- almost seventy (70) other toxic substances
Sadly, during these three decades, and before the water contamination was cleared, over one million people lived and worked at Camp Lejeune, including active duty and former military service members, their families, non-military staff and many others.
The contamination was not limited to one area, but rather spanned the entire base, making every resident, visitor and worker a potential victim. Sources included two of the eight water treatment facilities that provided the camp and surrounding areas with water: Tarawa Terrace Treatment Plant and Hadnot Point Treatment Plant. Studies on the water at Camp Lejeune also found these toxic chemicals, among others:
- Tetrachloroethylene (PCE or PERC)
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Vinyl Chloride
Until August 11, 2022, victims and survivors who used the toxic water at Lejeune had no recourse and no restitution: it was unconstitutional to sue the military when “the employer” was a branch of U.S. government.
But the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (part of the bipartisan PACT Act) has now become law and allows injured veterans and their families a two-year window for civil claims to be properly filed, tried in court for jury verdict, or negotiated by Camp Lejeune attorneys for advance settlement.