4 Consequences of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination That You Cannot Ignore

July 15, 2023

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Have you heard about the environmental impacts of the Camp Lejeune water contamination? Were you intrigued by the legal decisions taken by the Biden Government for Camp Lejeune? Do you want to know more about the health issues caused?

In either case, the legal, environmental, health, and humanitarian consequences have changed Camp Lejeune forever. As of this writing, the Camp Lejeune marine corps base has over 170,000 residents and a thriving economy. However, that was not the case in the late 1900s.

A construction worker found a tomb of dead dogs and radioactive laboratory waste buried near Camp Lejeune in 2018. Between the 1950s and 1980s, these toxic chemicals seeped into the Camp Lejeune water supply. As a result, the environment and thousands of residents suffered consequences.

In this blog, we will discuss the consequences that followed Camp Lejeune's water contamination.

#1. Environmental Consequence

The improper chemical waste disposal methods and leakages led to the contamination of two water treatment plants at Camp Lejeune. Toxic elements like dry cleaning solvents, benzene, and vinyl chloride contaminated the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point treatment plants.

Researchers also found traces of trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE) in the water supply. These are “forever chemicals” that do not break down in nature and form toxic sedimentations. Therefore, Camp Lejeune’s soil and surface water might have traces of this contamination for eternity.

Moreover, these toxins reached the New River Inlet, making the seafood inedible and carcinogenic. It also affected the vegetation and plants in the area.

The true story of a civilian woman living at this marine corps base will shock you. Her father was stationed at Tarawa Terrace between 1980 and 1982. He later developed liver and throat cancer leading to his death.

Similarly, her mother was diagnosed with leukemia, and her older sister died of breast cancer. Moreover, she has become infertile because of consistent exposure to contaminated water. It proves that the environmental damage at Camp Lejeune is far too great for the government to reverse.

#2. Legal Consequence

Affected individuals did not let the culprits walk free. Instead, they took the legal route and fought for justice. According to federal law, veterans can get financial benefits due to disabilities caused by toxic exposure. However, Yale University states that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denied various claims between 2012 to 2016.

Similarly, the anonymous Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) appointed by the VA reduced the grant rate from 25% to 8%. The veterans later expressed concerns about this rule. However, the VA denied providing any documents, resulting in a loss of transparency.

When the Biden government came into power, they passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. This bill allowed all military families to seek compensation due to injuries caused by the contamination. As a result, it removed the immunity held by the federal government.

In short, the bill makes the Feres Doctrine null and void. According to TorHoerman Law, this doctrine prohibited claims made by military personnel against the federal government based on service-related conditions.

That means everyone affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination crisis is eligible for the USD 6.7 million payout. However, the compensation will depend on the medical bills, proof of service, and proof of residence provided. The legal consequences prove that the extent of injury was so severe that the government had to change the law to punish the ones responsible.

#3. Health Consequence

Exposure to the toxic chemicals mentioned in point #1 has led to serious health complications in Camp Lejeune residents. The chronic diseases and illnesses include:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Cervical cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Infertility
  • Breast cancer
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Kidney cancer
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Neurobehavioral issues

Over 1 million veterans, civilians, workers, and dependents may have been exposed during this time. It only took 30 days of exposure for the residents to develop long-term complications. Therefore, individuals living at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 likely developed these health issues.

There was an active-duty military personnel stationed at Camp Lejeune in 1963. But he developed leukemia in 2003 after almost 40 years. The health and environmental consequences prove that water contamination has ruined lives and destroyed the surroundings.

#4. Water Safety Consequence

Currently, the water at Camp Lejeune is safe to use and drink. Once studies proved the extent of water contamination, the base took severe action against the contaminated treatment plants. The federal government instantly shut down the wells in 1985.

However, the process of cleaning the entire water supply was time-consuming. The clean-up efforts include air stripping, extraction, filtration, carbon adsorption, chemical oxidation, and more. That is why it took the government till the end of 1987 to make the water 100% safe for the residents.

Due to the legal backlash from veterans, workers, and military families, the government arranged quarterly water checks to ensure safety. Some Camp Lejeune residents arrange for state-certified laboratory tests for peace of mind. Other than that, water testing kits can come in handy to check contamination levels in tap water. It proves that Camp Lejeune residents are always alert about water contamination due to previous issues.

The Bottom Line

The environmental consequences at Camp Lejeune taught the American government and the commercial sector an important lesson. They learned that researching toxic chemicals comes with a hefty price and responsibility. Of course, society needs to understand how these elements function through research.

However, that does not give companies the right to forgo safe and mindful disposal methods. Thousands of people suffered because of corporate misconduct and sheer incompetence. Therefore, the environmental, health, legal, and water safety consequences will echo in the lives of Camp Lejeune victims forever.


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