Our attorneys are speaking with U.S. veterans and their family members who developed certain cancers, birth defects, and other neurological or autoimmune disorders after being exposed to toxic contaminants in the water supply while living and working on U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between 1953 and 1987.
How We Can Help
If you or a family member has been affected by an illness associated with toxic exposure to water contaminants at Base Camp Lejeune, our attorneys can coordinate the expert medical opinions and administrative support you need to prepare the strongest claim possible to the government for coverage of your medical costs, as well as disability benefits. Protect your rights to care. Call (888) 539-6064 or fill out the form today to start building your claim.
Covered Health Conditions
The Janey Ensminger Act, signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, provides medical care at Veterans Affairs facilities for U.S. servicemen and their families stationed at the base between the late 1950s and late 1980s who contracted any of the following 15 ailments associated with exposure to the chemicals found in the base’s water treatment plants:
|Esophageal Cancer||Lung Cancer|
|Breast Cancer||Bladder Cancer|
|Kidney Cancer||Adult Leukemia|
|Multiple Myeloma||Myelodysplastic Syndromes|
|Renal Toxicity||Hepatic Steatosis|
|Female Infertility||Miscarriage, with exposure during pregnancy|
Under the Act, veterans receive cost-free medical care for treatments of these ailments; family members of veterans are eligible for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses relating to the treatment of these conditions.
It is unclear whether the medical coverage provided the VA includes disability compensation, and whether ailments other than those listed above will be considered for coverage.
How to File a Claim
In order to qualify for covered medical services, veterans and their family members must submit claims packages to the VA’s Louisville, KY regional office for consideration.
In addition to a VA-issued form and questionnaire, each claims package must include medical documentation verifying a diagnosis, as well as medical evidence showing a link between the diagnosis and exposure to the contaminated water.
Eligible claimants must have lived or worked on the base for at least 30 days.
Claims for disability compensation may be included in the claims package, and will be reviewed by a panel of U.S government officials and medical personnel.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Personal Injury Lawsuits
The Janey Ensminger Act was signed into law after numerous veterans and family members filed lawsuits against the U.S. government between 2009 and 2011 alleging that exposure to contaminated water at the base caused lymphoma, breast cancer, and other ailments.
In 2011, ten of these lawsuits were consolidated into the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Despite the attempts of North Carolina legislatures to extend the time limit for veterans and family members to file claims in the consolidated litigation, a federal appeals court ruled in 2014 that these individuals’ claims were barred by statute of limitations laws in North Carolina.
Water Contamination Discovered, Wells Shut Down in 1980s
Though lawsuits weren’t filed until the early 2000s, the water was deemed contaminated over 25 years earlier. Testing conducted by the base and by private companies contracted by the USMC between 1980 and 1984 confirmed the presence of certain volatile organic compounds in the water at two of the base’s treatment plants.
Tarawa Terrace: Industrial Solvents
The Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant serving the Tarawa Terrace military housing area was contaminated with perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene (PCE), according to government investigations, in concentrations exceeding 43 times the current U.S. maximum contaminant level. PCE is a chemical used in dry cleaning and had been likely dumped into the environment by a local off-base dry cleaning company.
Hadnot Water: Industrial Solvents, Benzene
The Hadnot Water treatment plant serving the main portion of the base was contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) in concentrations exceeding 280 times the current U.S. contaminant level, in addition to PCE and benzene. TCE is a solvent used for cleaning metal parts, and benzene is used to make other chemicals required for the development of plastics, resins, nylon, and synthetic fibers. Leaking underground storage tanks on the base, as well as industrial area spills and a toxic radioactive waste dump near the base leached these contaminants into the water.
Colorless, these chemicals degraded in groundwater, poisoning wells that provided water for marines, naval personnel, civilian workers, and families, including infants and children, to drink and bathe in.
The wells were shut down in 1985.
Contaminated Water Linked to Health Effects
In 1997, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a subsidiary of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted a preliminary investigation of the well water, and concluded that cancer resulting from exposure was unlikely.
Further studies performed by the agency in 2009, however, confirmed that benzene leaked from underground fuel tanks could in fact pose certain health risks.
Studies cited on the ATSDR website link a host of fetal abnormalities and birth defects to in utero exposure to drinking water contaminated with TCE and/or PCE, including major heart defects, oral cleft defects, eye defects, and even fetal death.
Studies cited on the website also link water contaminated with TCE and/or PCE to the development of leukemia, rectal cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and neurobehavioral performance deficits.