Between 1953 – 1987, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was highly contaminated. That means that for over three decades, our military service members, their families, and the camp workers were exposed to drinking water highly contaminated with dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals.
If you or a family member was exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 – 1987, you may be entitled to compensation through a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit. Read on to learn more.
As a Marine Corps veteran himself, attorney Aden Wilkie of the Wilkie Law Firm is a huge advocate for service members in all aspects, from providing aggressive military criminal defense services to obtaining proper compensation for preventable illnesses and injuries such as those stemming from Camp Lejeune’s water contamination. That’s why he’s decided to co-counsel with the toxic exposure lawyers at Reich & Binstock to represent affected veterans and their families in Camp Lejeune claims.
By co-counseling with the Houston injury attorneys at Reich & Binstock, the Wilkie Law Firm plans to help Camp Lejeune victims obtain maximum compensation for the devastating consequences of toxic water consumption. Call our North Carolina Camp Lejeune lawyers today at 910-218-9260 to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the original sources of the toxic chemicals found in Camp Lejeune water included storage tanks, unlined waste pits, and indiscriminate disposal of toxic solvents. ABC One-Hour Cleaners was just one of the waste disposal sites that was believed to be responsible for the volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, found in the drinking water provided by the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point water treatment plants on base.
Anyone exposed to the toxic substances from the Camp Lejeune water supply may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.
More specifically, the water contamination at Camp Lejeune occurred from 1957 through 1987. The contaminated drinking water was distributed throughout the base, including to all military personnel and service members at training locations and barracks as well as to those living in family housing on base. This means that service members, camp workers, and family members were all put at risk by the toxic chemicals. As such, all Camp Lejeune residents between 1957 and 1987 may be entitled to compensation through a Camp Lejeune water lawsuit.
On August 10, 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 was signed into law on a bipartisan basis as part of the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. The PACT Act focuses on addressing issues affecting veterans who were exposed to toxic materials during service.
Injured veterans and their family members had been denied justice for far too long. However, with this new law, anyone exposed to contaminated water can now seek compensation by filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
In order to be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune claim, an individual (including non-veterans) must have resided, worked, or otherwise been exposed to the water at Camp Lejeune (including in utero exposure) for at least 30 days during the period beginning August 1, 1953, and ending December 31, 1987. To learn more about the Act, reach out to a Camp Lejeune attorney from the Wilkie Law Firm today.
The link between the toxic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune and various health conditions has been established by scientific and medical evidence. The dangerous chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the water have been specifically linked to certain types of cancer, as well as a slew of other health risks.
To give an idea of how toxic the water was, personnel at the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point treatment plant were exposed to more than 3,000 times the EPA’s maximum safe level of exposure.
Below, we outline the toxic VOCs found in the contaminated Camp Lejeune water:
By far, the most devastating chemical was perchloroethylene, or PCE. It has been the most significant cause of illness and death as a result of the contamination. The chemical is widely used in dry cleaning and can enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, or dermal contact. It attacks the central nervous system and various organs, and settles in the fat cells of the body. For 346 months, the Tarawa Terrace treatment center had dangerously high levels of PCE. But just how high were those levels?
The EPA explains that the maximum safe level for PCE in drinking water is 5 ug/L. The highest level of PCE contamination at Tarawa Terrace was 215 ug/L. That’s 43 times the maximum safe level of PCE.
Strong evidence has linked PCE with a variety of ailments, including the following.
Trichloroethylene is used as a degreaser, as well as in the making of refrigerants, fumigants, and other compounds. Exposure happens mostly through inhalation and dermal contact. Once it gets into the bloodstream, it reaches the major organs and settles into the fat cells. Much like at Tarawa Terrace, the Hadnot Point water treatment center was badly contaminated with TCE.
The EPA explains that the maximum safe level for TCE in drinking water is 5ppb. The highest level of TCE contamination at Hadnot Point was 1,400 ppb. That’s 280 times the maximum safe level of TCE.
Notably, TCE has been linked to certain birth defects at Camp Lejeune. This is partially because TCE is able to cross the placenta and affect the fetus. Studies show that there is a strong link between congenital heart defects and exposure of mothers to TCE during pregnancy.
Certain workers at Camp Lejeune were exposed to Toluene, which is frequently used in paint, metal cleaners, and adhesives. Exposure happens via inhalation, getting it on the skin, swallowing it, or getting it in the eyes. Studies show that exposure increases the risks of lung cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, and bladder cancer.
Vinyl chloride is a cancer-causing gas that is highly flammable. It is a man-made substance used primarily for the production of PVC products. It also occurs in tobacco smoke. Exposure to the substance is linked to higher rates of certain cancers.
VA benefits are currently available for Marine Corps veterans and their families who received Camp Lejeune injuries and illnesses as a result of the toxic water contamination. Health care compensation from the VA is reserved for qualifying veterans, guardsmen, and reservists who received a diagnosis of one or more of the presumptive conditions found here.
However, these health care benefits are often not enough to cover the true cost of pain and suffering that afflicted service members and their families. That is why many victims are seeking maximum Camp Lejeune settlement payouts by filing a lawsuit against the federal government.
Depending on their case plays out, victims may receive compensation through Camp Lejeune settlements or from a court-awarded verdict. Once you obtain legal representation, your attorneys will work to negotiate a fair settlement with the defendants and avoid court altogether. However, if an appropriate settlement cannot be reached, your Jacksonville Camp Lejeune attorneys will take your case to court and fight for you there.
The amount of compensation you are able to receive depends on several different factors that are unique to your case. This, along with the fact that these cases are still playing out, means there is not an “average amount” that can be gathered yet. However, when you work with Aden Wilkie and the Camp Lejeune lawyers at Reich & Binstock, you can rest assured knowing we are fighting tooth and nail for the highest payout possible.
If you believe you and/or a loved one has suffered adverse health conditions as a result of the Camp Lejeune water contamination, it is important that you equip the help of a toxic water contamination lawyer as soon as possible. You only have two years to file a lawsuit and seek compensation, so the sooner you reach out, the better.
Once a claim is filed, we will need to gather evidence such as medical records and military service records to strengthen your case. If you have any of this documentation on hand, be sure to inform your North Carolina Camp Lejeune attorney, as this can help move the case forward much quicker.
The Wilkie Law Firm is proud to provide exceptional representation to service members and veterans worldwide in all branches of the military. As a Marine Corps veteran residing in Jacksonville, North Carolina, attorney Aden Wilkie has a thorough understanding of both military law and North Carolina law. Aden’s extensive familiarity with all parts of the military justice process and both sides of the courtroom gives him unique and valuable insight to apply to your Camp Lejeune litigation case.
Aden Wilkie has a reputation as an aggressive, fearless Marine who faithfully served his country through 6 deployments, 10 plus duty stations, and 21 years of honorable service. This makes the damage that Camp Lejeune’s water supply caused his fellow service members and their families a personal matter to him, and he wants to do his part to ensure victims receive the maximum amount of compensation they are entitled to.
If you and/or someone you love has suffered an injury or illness from drinking from the contaminated water supply at the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, call the Devil Dog Defender Aden Wilkie at 910-218-9260 today. Together with the legal team at Reich & Binstock, we will fight for full and fair compensation for you and your family.
For over 30 years now, the legal team at Reich & Binstock has handled complex personal injury and toxic tort claims that require a high level of discretion, knowledge, and skill. Their dedication to the cause – combined with their vast array of legal resources – assists them in unearthing and analyzing every last piece of evidence while recognizing all potential legal opportunities to leverage their clients’ claim.
Co-counseling with the Wilkie Law Firm, attorneys Dennis Reich and Robert Binstock are ready and willing to maximize your recovery for past, present, and future damages related to your Camp Lejeune claim. Call today to learn more.
Camp Lejeune officially becomes a Marine Corps base.
The housing development, Tarawa Terrace, begins operations, including its water treatment system, which was built to provide clean water to the residents of Tarawa Terrace. This was one of two major treatment facilities that were responsible for distributing the contaminated water.
ABC One-Hour Cleaners opens across the street from Tarawa Terrace. Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is a dry cleaning solvent that was one of the primary Camp Lejeune water contaminants. Because of the improper waste disposal practices at ABC One-Hour Cleaners, PCE leaked into the base’s water supply. The septic tank system on the property released the chemical into soil and groundwater, and PCE was also buried onsite. As a result, the contaminant poisoned a water treatment plant that served Tarawa Terrace.
This is the year Hadnot Point’s drinking water system was affected by toxic chemicals. The contamination primarily resulted from leaking underground storage tanks as well as oil and other waste disposed of improperly, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
A few years later, according to ATSDR, the Tarawa Terrace water treatment system is contaminated by toxins from the neighboring business ABC One-Hour Dry Cleaners.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases its standards for THMs, a by-product of drinking water disinfection, and also recommended drinking water levels for TCE, a solvent used in the dry cleaning industry.
The Marine Corps sampled drinking water at Camp Lejeune to test for certain chemicals in the water, per EPA standards. However, this testing revealed “other chemicals [that] interfered with results” of the tests.
The Marine Corps identified the contaminants trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene or PCE), detected at levels above the EPA standards for safe drinking water. These chemicals were identified in the water supply of two of the eight water treatment plants on the base in 1982 – Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point water treatment facilities.
The Navy begins an environmental cleanup program at Camp Lejeune and as part of the effort, water wells near the known contaminated sites were tested.
The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) moves forward with the time-consuming process of removing contaminated wells from service. The process takes more than two years to complete.
This is another critical date under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, as December 31, 1987, ends the eligibility period under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act for people to be eligible to file a lawsuit.
The Environmental Protection Agency declares Camp Lejeune and ABC One-Hour Cleaners to be Superfund sites. “Superfund” is another term for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). It allows for the cleanup of contaminated sites.
The ATSDR begins a multi-year look at the risk to children whose mothers were exposed to contaminated water during pregnancy at Camp Lejeune. This study is published in 2001 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
ATSDR conducts a telephone survey designed to identify selected birth defects and childhood cancers in children affected by the Camp Lejeune water. Many of the respondents are learning for the first time that they could be a victim of Camp Lejeune water contamination.
ATSDR completes its childhood cancer and birth defect survey of children who had been exposed to the contaminated water, finding 106 children had specific birth defects and cancers.
President George W. Bush signs the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act requiring the Department of the Navy to conduct a health survey of people exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Laura Jones, the wife of a former Marine, became the first person to file a lawsuit against the United States government over the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Jones and her husband lived at Camp Lejeune from 1980 to 1983.
In her Camp Lejeune lawsuit, Jones claimed that she was exposed to dangerous chemicals through the Camp’s water supply, including TCE, PCE, DCE, vinyl chloride, and benzene. She alleged that this exposure led her to be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).
President Barack Obama signs the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act (Janey Ensminger Act) making it possible for military service members impacted by the water contamination to more easily receive health care through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Any veteran who served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1987, and their family members, could receive medical services if they suffered from any of 15 listed cancers and other illnesses or conditions.
The illnesses were: esophageal cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, multiple myeloma, renal toxicity, female infertility, scleroderma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung cancer, bladder cancer, leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, hepatic steatosis, miscarriage and neurobehavioral effects.
More than 800 water contamination lawsuits are filed through the Federal Tort Claims Act. In December, the MDL court dismissed the Camp Lejeune FTCA claims under North Carolina’s statute of repose, which is 10 years.
An additional $2 billion is made available to veterans, reservists, and National Guard members who were impacted by the water contamination. To receive the disability assistance, the individual has to be suffering from one of eight diseases including kidney cancer, liver cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, adult leukemia, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes or bladder cancer.
Based on the 2016 dismissal of FTCA claims by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Department of Navy denies all 4,400 claims. Thousands of Camp Lejeune victims now have no compensation.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act is introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives removes many barriers that prevented service members and their families from receiving financial compensation for harm from exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
As part of the Honoring Our PACT Act 2022 (PACT Act), the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is approved on August 2, 2022.
On August 10, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the bill into law, giving a potential claimant two years to file a lawsuit and seek justice from the U.S. Government for damages related to exposure to contaminated water.
With the passing of this legislation, veterans, their families and civilians who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune from 1953 and 1987 for 30 or more days and developed certain health conditions are now able to file Camp Lejeune lawsuits for financial compensation for lost wages, medical costs, and pain and suffering. Those who had loved ones die as a result of an illness linked to the toxins in Camp Lejeune’s water may also be able to file a lawsuit.