Located in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Camp Lejeune is a U.S. Marine Corps base camp that encompasses 156,000 acres. Used to train Marines and sailors, thousands of military members and their families have called this military home since it was built in 1941. However, Camp Lejeune is famous for another reason: water contamination.
Between 1953 and 1987, water treatment facilities at Camp Lejeune became tainted with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), leading many people to develop serious medical conditions like cancer, birth defects, and liver disease. Today, victims and their families are seeking ways to secure justice.
Congress has introduced many pieces of legislation to help victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination recover compensation for the damages that they suffered. One of these bills is known as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
What Is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?
H.R. 2192, or the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021, was introduced to help victims of the water contamination at the base file lawsuits and recover damages for medical care, lost wages, and other conditions. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in March 2021.
Under this law, victims are eligible for compensation if they meet the following criteria:
- They lived at Camp Lejeune between August 1st, 1953 and December 31st, 1987.
- They lived at Camp Lejeune during this time period for at least 30 days.
- They were diagnosed with a medical condition associated with exposure to contaminated water.
How Is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act Related to the Honoring Our PACT Act?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act will likely become law as part of a separate piece of legislation, known as the Honoring Our PACT Act. PACT stands for “Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act.” This bill, also known as H.R. 3967, addresses not only the contamination at Camp Lejeune, but remedies for veterans exposed to toxic substances in general.
The Honoring Our PACT Act was introduced into the House of Representatives in June 2021. It passed the House of Representatives on March 3rd, 2022 and passed the Senate on June 16th, 2022. The next step for H.R. 3967 is for the President to sign it into law, making it possible for Camp Lejeune families to file lawsuits against the government for the water contamination.
How Does the Camp Lejeune Justice Act Help Victims and Their Families?
The water contamination at Camp Lejeune is linked to several medical conditions, many of which can have a major impact on your life. If you were exposed to this tainted water for a period of 30 days or longer, you could suffer significant financial, emotional, and physical hardships.
By filing a lawsuit, you could hold the government accountable for the losses that you experienced due to your medical condition. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your condition, you could recover a settlement to pay for the following damages:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Specialized treatments and therapies
- Lost wages during treatment and recovery
- Loss of future earnings and benefits
- Chronic pain, permanent disability, and other forms of physical pain and suffering
- Depression, anxiety, loss of quality of life, and other forms of emotional pain and suffering
Why Is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act Necessary?
The government is responsible for ensuring that the water quality at military bases is safe for service members and their families to drink, cook with, and bathe in. While no amount of money can make up for what happened at Camp Lejeune, recovering a settlement through the Camp Lejeune Justice Act can alleviate many of the damages that you experienced due to your condition.
The Dangers of Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune
The VOCs that leaked into the water supply at Camp Lejeune are known to increase the risk of dangerous illnesses, including several forms of cancer. Some of these conditions include, but are limited to, the following:
- Adult leukemia
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Renal toxicity
- Lung cancer
- Aplastic anemia
- Cardiac birth defects
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Breast cancer
The Length of Time Water Was Contaminated at Camp Lejeune
Experts believe that the water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated between 1953 and 1987. The general time frame for exposure to this tainted water is from August 1st, 1953 to December 31st, 1987. The adverse health effects are more likely to occur if you were exposed for a period of at least 30 days.
Delayed & Ineffective Investigations into Water Problems on the Base
There is a disturbing pattern of delayed and ineffective investigations into the water issues at Camp Lejeune. This negligence has led to many people developing dangerous diseases due to prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals.
In 1980, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required the base to begin testing the water for certain chemicals due to new regulations. A laboratory team from the U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency released a report in 1981 that stated that the water was highly contaminated with solvents.
After U.S. Marine officials were made aware of this report, the base contracted a private company called Grainger Laboratories to examine the problem in 1982. This lab also discovered that the water was contaminated and repeatedly warned officials at Camp Lejeune of the danger. However, no immediate action was taken to remedy either report.
In 1984, another investigation was launched under an EPA review of Camp Lejeune. Chemists began testing individual wells directly and found contaminants in the water. In one case, a well had such a high concentration of a chemical normally found in gasoline that the well should immediately have been closed. It was only at this point that Marine officials began to shut down the contaminated wells. In late 1984 and early 1985 ten wells were shut down due to water toxicity.
Speak with a Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Attorney Today
The water contamination at Camp Lejeune is linked to serious and life-threatening medical conditions. If you were diagnosed with an illness after being stationed at Camp Lejeune, you may be eligible for financial compensation. In these situations, it is important to speak with a lawyer about your options.
A Camp Lejeune contaminated water attorney has the skills and experience necessary to help determine your case eligibility and understand your legal options as the legislative landscape evolves. As soon as possible following your diagnosis, contact a lawyer to discuss your case and plan your next steps.