Camp Lejeune Water Contamination: What Happened?
Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits and litigation have emerged due to adverse health effects from contaminated water wells at the military base between August 1953 and December 1987.
During this timeframe, two water-supply systems at Camp Lejeune were found to be contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), both known as industrial solvents. These water supply systems served family-housing, base administrative offices, schools, recreational areas, barracks for service personnel, as well as a base hospital and industrial area. With a broad range of people exposed over this significant time period, a number of the affected are seeking compensation for health problems and suffering caused to the exposed and their families.
Turnbull, Holcomb & LeMoine are capable and experienced attorneys who can take Camp Lejeune water contamination exposure cases such as these the full distance to a jury trial. Contact us now for a free evaluation of your case.
Causes of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
After concerns of the possible contamination of drinking water supplies at Camp Lejeune, military chemists began testing the wells on the base in October 1980. Recent investigations determined that two separate water systems, known as Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point were contaminated and determined to be unsafe.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was tasked by Congress to perform a historical reconstruction of contamination scenarios. ATSDR determined that Tarawa Terrace had been largely contaminated from an off-base dry-cleaning operation (ABC One-Hour Cleaners) as a result of spills and improper disposal practices since as early as 1953 when operations began.
The investigation into the Hadnot Point water system was significantly more complex and determined that there were numerous sites that possibly contributed to the contamination including: an industrial area, a drum dump, a transformer storage lot, an industrial fly-ash dump, an open storage pit, a former fire training area, a site of a former on-base dry cleaner, a liquid-disposal area, a former burn dump, a fuel-tank sludge area, and the site of the original base dump.
TCE and PCE Water Contamination Health Effects
The health problems created by exposure to water contaminated with TCE and PCE are diverse. Not only was repeated exposure likely but the contaminated water sources at Camp Lejeune were not tested until the 1980’s. ATSDR’s investigation into the contamination determined it was impossible to determine historical levels of exposure due to a wide variety of unknown factors. This means exposure to these toxins could have been far beyond the levels revealed in the testing done since 1980. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified perchloroethylene (PCE) as likely to be carcinogenic to humans. A lengthy list of possible and likely chronic health effects from TCE and PCE was compounded and released by the Agency for Toxic Substances. A list of potential chronic health problems is as follows:
- Kidney cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Cardiac defects
- Bladder cancer
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
- Liver cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- End-stage renal disease
- Parkinson disease
- non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- End-stage renal disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Chonal atresia (nasal passages blocked with bone or tissue) (1, 2)
- Eye defects
- Low birth weight
- Fetal death
- Major malformations
- Neural tube defects
- Oral cleft defects (including cleft lip)
- Small for gestational age
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Lung cancer
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Ovarian cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Impaired immune system function
- Neurological effects (delayed reaction times problems with short-term memory, visual perception, attention, and color vision)
- Neurobehavioral performance deficits (i.e., delayed recall and deficits in visual perception), decreased blink reflex, and mood effects (i.e., confusion, depression and tension)
- Severe, generalized hypersensitivity skin disorder (an autoimmune-related disease)
- Aplastic anemia
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Brain cancer
- Lung cancer
- Soft tissue cancer
- Liver cirrhosis
History of Denial
The story of Camp Lejeune water contamination is fraught with a long history of oversight, denial, and outright negligence.
The Marine Corps maintained for two decades that TCE and PCE were not regulated, however, regulations by the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery barred harmful substances in water. Despite the knowledge of the danger TCE and PCE solvents posed, which was known to be dangerous to humans, and while other military installations closed down wells for similar contamination in the 1970’s, Camp Lejeune’s wells continued to remain operable until much later.
Although testing at the wells of Camp Lejeune began in 1980, the Marine Corps maintained they did not get the results until 1982. The wells remained open and in use until 1985 when 10 wells were finally closed due to contamination.
In the period of time between 1980 and 1985, much has been revealed about the denial of the Marine Corps in correspondence between the military, laboratory services for the Army and the EPA showing that the Marines had been made aware of the dangers and the contamination long before the wells were closed. It was not until 1989 that the EPA and the state of North Carolina were made aware that in addition to other known sources of contamination that storage tanks at a fuel depot was leaking 1,500 gallons of fuel into the earth each month, and that as early as 1979 up to 30,000 gallons of fuel had leaked.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuits and Litigation
In 1999, the United States Marine Corps began notifying former residents of Camp Lejeune that they may have consumed and been exposed to contaminated water. It was admitted that those who consumed and used the water were exposed to PCE and TCE toxins at concentrations at least 240 to 3400 times levels permitted by safety standards. Since then, it has been realized that chronic health conditions have been widespread among former residents of Camp Lejeune.
Countless claims have been initiated against the federal government seeking compensation for the pain and suffering which has impacted the victims and their families.
Turnbull, Holcomb & LeMoine have the resources, expertise, and experience to try this type of case and achieve a successful outcome, one which not only compensates the victims but includes punitive damages to hold those accountable for their negligence. Whether you are an attorney currently representing a victim in any Camp Lejeune lawsuits, or are a person or family member of someone directly affected, you can end your search for representation here. You can trust Turnbull, Holcomb & LeMoine to not only litigate your case, but carry it all the way to trial for the best possible outcome.
Our Qualifications for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Litigation
At Turnbull, Holcomb & LeMoine, we are recognized as a national law firm and are licensed in over 8 states.
Our reputation speaks for itself, and we are known for our enduring resolve to take cases to trial that other attorneys simply did not have the capabilities and resources for. Numerous trials with successful outcomes and regular trial awards exceeding our clients’ expectations, we regularly push the bar higher in our efforts to bring justice to plaintiffs who need the best representation at trial. Preparation is the name of the game when we appear in the courtroom at trial.
We focus on strategic structuring of trial arguments, in-depth witness preparation, comprehensive jury research, case strategies built through focus groups and mock trials and have a reputation for winning against deep pocketed corporations. We offer regular communication and case updates to parties of interest, competitive fee agreements and are committed to maximizing results.
If you or a loved one have suffered negative health effects after exposure to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, you are in the right place.
Similarly, if you are an attorney who is currently representing a client who wants to further litigate their claim and take it to trial or your client has decided to opt out of a class action settlement, then your search ends here. Simply call us at (888) 488-9616 or contact us on our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a highly qualified trial attorney to discuss how we can help and take your case to the next level.