On March 14, 2013, NBC News published an article highlighting the dangers of contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune Marine base. Camp Lejeune is one of the most storied Marine bases in the United States, but new evidence shows contamination of the water supply at the base may go back for as long as 60 years.
According to past estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was thought that somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million people were exposed to contaminated drinking water at the Lejeune base between 1953 and 1987. New evidence, however, suggests that the contamination may go back even further to 1948. Our North Carolina injury attorneys know this means more people may have potentially been exposed to toxins and may have developed, or may be in danger of developing, serious health problems.
The Contaminated Drinking Water
It has long been established that there were several wells on the Lejeune Marine base that were contaminated with a variety of different chemicals. The contamination occurred because of fuel leaks and potentially because of a nearby dry-cleaning plant. However, while federal officials were aware of the contamination for years, it was not previously thought to extend back for as long as 60 years.
Past reports indicated that some of the wells were potentially tainted with trichloroethylene (TCE) between 1948 and 2008 while others were tainted with benzene between 1951 and 2008.
A new report, however, indicates that the TCE contamination may have begun either during construction in 1941 or right after construction in 1942. If this is the case, then the TCE may first have exceeded the maximum content level by 1948. A potential 60-year history of contamination is tragic and can have devastating outcomes for the Marines and their families who drank and bathed in the toxic water. The highest levels of TCE were reached in the 1970s, but anyone exposed during the time they lived on the base was potentially at risk.
Determining exactly who was affected by the toxins and how much contamination existed is complicated since different housing areas and office areas are affected in different ways. However, it is clear that Marines have complained that they and their family members, including children, have suffered from cancer as a result of the contaminated water.
Cancers caused by exposure to the toxins include fatal leukemia and breast cancer. The chemicals in the contaminated water at the marine supply may also cause kidney disease, aplastic anemia, lupus, infertility, Parkinson’s disease and a host of other health problems.
Taking Action Due to Toxic Water Exposure
The federal government has taken responsibility for exposing the marines and their families on the base to toxins, and those exposed can seek compensation and medical care through the government. With the new report indicating that the exposure to toxins from contaminated wells may have occurred sooner, it is possible more people will now be eligible for compensation.
In many cases, those who are exposed to toxic chemicals in the water, at work or anywhere else often have a very hard time obtaining compensation since it can be challenging to prove that there is a clear link between the toxic exposure and illness that often develop much later in life. In this case, the Marines and their families are fortunate that at least their bills are being taken care of and that money is available to help meet their needs.
If you or your family has been injured by toxic exposure, contact the personal injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965 for a free and confidential consultation.