Thousands of persons have developed cancers and other serious illnesses as a result of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987. On August 10, 2022, President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The Act provides for monetary damages to individuals who were stationed, lived, or worked at Camp Lejeune, and allows them to bring claims that otherwise could not be brought. As a result of the Act, military veterans, their families, and civilians who were at the base now have access to the court systems for their injuries. The Act applies to individuals who were at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days beginning August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987.
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The following illnesses have been linked to the chemicals found in the groundwater at Camp Lejeune:
Morrow & Sheppard have proudly represented veterans in the past, ranging from personal injury claims to the denial of military benefits. For example, for years Morrow & Sheppard represented an Army veteran that had been wrongfully denied educational benefits provided to other types of veterans. To see how that case was covered in the national media, click here and here.
Camp Lejeune (formally known as Marine Corps Base Lejeune) is an Atlantic coastal military base in Onslow County, North Carolina comprised of approximately 157,000 acres (or 246-square miles) and 11 miles of beach for amphibious training. It is within and adjacent to the city of Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Camp Lejeune has existed since September 1941, when the 1st Marine Division initially set up the camp during World War II. It has grown steadily since then.
Today, the base is home to large active duty, dependent, retiree, and civilian employee populations. Since the early 1990s, this population began to exceed 100,000. In addition to training and preparing Marines and other military personnel, the base generates billions of dollars in commerce every year.
From at least August 1953 until December 1987, persons and unborn children at Camp Lejeune were exposed to contaminated drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing water, including known carcinogens and pathogens at levels several hundreds of times higher than the standard safety levels.
The contaminants were discovered in the 1980s, and included trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, benzene, and dozens of other dangerous and volatile compounds.
Two on-base water supply systems were contaminated. The sources of the contamination were an off-base dry cleaner, and on-base leaking storage tanks and industrial activities.
Tricloroethylene (TCE) is hazardous man-made chemical that causes cancer. It is a clear liquid with a sweet smell. It has been used in connection with dry cleaning operations, as a degreaser for metal parts, to clean rocket engines, and other industrial operations. Exposure to TCE occurs mainly through contaminated drinking water.
Vinyl Chloride is a hazardous chemical and known carcinogen that can contaminate soil and drinking water, and is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia. It is used in the manufacture of PVC, which is used in a variety of plastic products. It can also result from the breakdown of other chemicals.
Benzene is a hazardous chemical and known carcinogen. There is no safe exposure level, and even tiny amounts can cause harm. Benzene is used as a solvent in dry cleaning, paints, and printing. It is also a component part of crude oil and gasoline. It can be used to make other chemicals that are used to make plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers. Benzene is widely used in the United States. Benzene can enter groundwater from leaking gas storage plants, landfills, and industrial operations.
Other contaminants have also been found in the groundwater at Camp Lejeune.