Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The Federal government recently passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 which reopens the long-expired statute of limitations for persons who lived and/or worked at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville, North Carolina, for a period of 30 days or more between 1953 and 1987.
These claims are based upon exposure to contaminated water which may have occurred through drinking water consumption, bathing water, swimming, washing laundry or dishes, or any other exposure to the water supply in that area.
How Did the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Occur?
Poor regulation of disposal dumps operated on the base, a private dry cleaner, and leaking underground storage tanks all contributed to the contamination of groundwater at Camp Lejeune. This, in turn, allowed for the pollution of the water treatment plants.
The Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base was serviced by several different water treatment plants that all provided water to the entire base. In the 1980s it was discovered that two of those treatment facilities—Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point—were contaminated with dangerous volatile organic compounds. It is uncertain exactly how far back the contamination goes as there were multiple sources of the contamination. Sources of the contamination include:
- A private off-base dry cleaner that failed to properly dispose of chemicals and waste
- Dump sites on the base that were used for burning, waste drum disposal, hazardous liquid disposal, and industrial fly-ash dumping
- Chemicals used in the fire-training area
- Open storage pits
- Underground Storage tanks and fuel tanks
- Transformers stored onside.
All of these items were unsafely stored and/or disposed of, many of which occurred prior to the existence of Federal laws to prohibit such activity.
Camp Lejeune Superfund
In 1989, Camp Lejeune was placed on the Superfund Site list. Superfund is a series of laws that allows the government to sue anyone related to a polluted property to force a cleanup.
Superfund was created as a way for the government to fund the cleanup of public and private properties that were polluted by improperly stored and/or disposed of hazardous waste and to then go after the perpetrators to recoup the costs.
Superfund allows the government to sue any party that caused the pollution and/or had an ownership relation to the property in order to recoup the cleanup costs. This law has been used to force the cleanup of underground gasoline storage tanks that rusted out and leaked across the country. The cleanup of the Camp Lejeune site has been ongoing since 1992.
What was in the Camp Lejeune Water?
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry performed studies on the water at Camp Lejeune and found a number of known carcinogens including Benzene, Vinyl Chloride, Tetrachloroethylene, Perchloroethylene, Trichloroethylene, and Dichloroethylene.
What are the Potential Injuries from Camp Lejeune Water Exposure?
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, their studies have shown that exposure to Camp Lejeune contaminated water increases a person’s risk of developing certain birth defects and cancers including:
- Bladder Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Rectal Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Lung Cancer
- Heart Defects
- Birth Defects
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Other illnesses.
How Do I File a Camp Lejeune Cancer Claim?
In order to file a claim, you must within 2 years of the passing of the act, complete and submit a Standard Form 95 (SF-95) to the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit in Norfolk, Virginia. You may do this on your own or by hiring an attorney to do so for you. The form requires you to provide detailed information about you, your injuries, and any other compensation you have received related to the injuries. The government is entitled to offset any money recovered for your injuries by way of VA Benefits, Social Security, or Medicare/Medicaid.
Your claim is a toxic tort claim against the United States which the government has granted permission to bring via the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. Upon submitting your claim, the Navy Tort Claims Unit has 180 days to investigate and take action upon a properly submitted Camp Lejeune cancer claim.
If the Navy fails to take action or outright denies the claim, you have 180 days in which to file a lawsuit but in any event, it must be filed no later than August 10, 2024. Lawsuits are required to be filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Failure to file your claim within 180 days or before August 10, 2024, will result in your claim being barred. The full statute governing claims can be found here.
Note: There are law firms you can hire to help with these cases however, our law firm is not presently taking these cases.