There are several illnesses related to Camp Lejeune water contamination. Also, the time frame for those eligible to file for damages and government support ranges for over 30 years from August 1st, 1953, to December 31st, 1987. With such a large problem continuing for over 30 years affecting both servicemen and their families, the question of how this happened in the first place is a valid one.
The Causes of Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
Multiple contaminants were discovered in the water supply of Camp Lejeune. It is an event where several unrelated incidents occurred that when combined, created an untenable situation. Any one of the following events was reason enough for concern. However, the occurrence of all of them over several years created a uniquely hazardous environment.
- Dry Cleaning Waste: the chemical Tetrachloroethylene or PCE was found in the water supply of Camp Lejeune. As this chemical is used in the dry cleaning industry its source was discovered to be an off-base company called ABC One-Hour Cleaners. They not only buried PCE on location, but their septic tank also leaked, further contaminating the water supply and groundwater. Because of this, the water that was provided by the treatment plant that supplied the Camp Lejeune housing project was poisoned. The housing project called Tarawa Terrance housed 6,200 people. Currently, the site of the former dry cleaner is a Superfund Site awaiting cleanup by the federal government.
- Industrial Contamination: another containment, found in local water supplies was trichloroethylene or TCE. The source for this containment was found to be the Hadnot Point water system which supplies water to numerous areas of Camp Lejeune, including the barracks, schools, hospitals, and recreation areas. TCE is an industrial chemical used during manufacturing to clean metal parts and components. An exact source could not be located for this issue, and it likely originated from multiple locations such as industrial spills and leaks in storage tanks.
- Other Contaminates: there were other chemicals found on the water at Camp Lejeune that are hazardous to your health and well-being. Notable among these was benzene which can cause many dangerous ailments. Also, 70 other secondary chemicals were discovered in the contaminated water when it was tested.
Measurements and Findings
These issues with water safety went on for decades without detection. By the 1980s when the water supply was discovered to be unsafe for human use, the resulting tests showed severe levels of contamination. For example, Hadnot Point showed TCE levels of 1,400 parts per billion. An acceptable level as per the EPA is 5 parts per billion. The same EPA figure is also applied to PCE and a reading of 215 parts per billion was detected at Tarawa Terrance putting the residents in danger.
The dangers at Camp Lejeune are not traceable to a single one-time event. This was a decades-long issue that had multiple points of failure and resulting contamination that went undetected for over 30 years. Because of this you and your family are owed proper compensation from the government for any health issues that could have resulted due to exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.