The sources of water contamination at Camp Lejeune

Michael Bartlett

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on June 16th, 2023

While the drinking water at Camp Lejeune had been contaminated since 1953, it was only in 1984 that the U.S. Marine Corps found volatile organic compounds lurking in it. There were multiple sources of water contamination at the military base, including a dry-cleaning firm located nearby.

During the last century, two of the eight drinking water supplies at Camp Lejeune became heavily contaminated with industrial solvents. At Hadnot Point, the trichloroethylene level exceeded the safe exposure limit by 280 times, whereas at Tarawa Terrace, the perchloroethylene level eclipsed it by 43 times. There were other toxic chemicals lurking in the drinking water, including benzene and vinyl chloride. Considering that there were multiple sources of pollution, the extent of water contamination at Camp Lejeune should not be surprising. The following are the major drinking water contamination sources at the military base.

A nearby dry-cleaning business

When it comes to perchloroethylene contamination, the main culprit was a dry-cleaning firm close to the military base. It was established in the early 1950s and consisted of three buildings joined to form one complex. ABC One-Hour Cleaners was located near the southern area of the military base. In addition to improperly disposing of perchloroethylene, the company was also responsible for releasing trichloroethene and 1,2-dichloroethene, which inevitably ended up in the groundwater and soil.

Exposure to perchloroethylene is known to cause birth defects and several different cancers. This staggering finding explains why so many Camp Lejeune veterans have been diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. The water plant at Tarawa Terrace, where the highest perchloroethylene level was detected, began operating in 1952 and served the family housing with the same name and the Knox trailer park. Perchloroethylene exposure can also harm the nervous system and impact the ability to process information.

Cleaning weapons and military equipment

Trichloroethylene was used to maintain and clean up weapons and military equipment at Camp Lejeune and was likely released into the water from a facility located on the military base itself. Specifically, it was primarily used as a cleaner for metal, weapons, engine parts, and machinery. The solvent is one of the chemicals responsible for the negative health outcomes Marine veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune struggle with. Furthermore, trichloroethylene exposure can result in heart defects in the children of individuals who came into contact with it.

Hadnot Point, where the highest trichloroethylene level was found, began operating in 1942 and served the mainside barracks, the Hospital Point family housing, and the family housing at Midway Park, Paradise Point, and Berkeley Manor. Prolonged exposure to trichloroethylene causes kidney cancer, and some evidence suggests that it may also be associated with a higher risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and, possibly, liver cancer.

Other sources of water contamination

Mercury, vinyl chloride, and benzene were also found in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. They most likely ended up contaminating the water supply from various tools, pipes, and pieces of infrastructure on the military base. Benzene contamination also occurred when approximately 800,000 gallons of fuel leaked from Camp Lejeune's fuel farm. Additionally, methylene chloride, a chemical solvent used in laboratories and in removing paint, was detected in the drinking water at the military base, and so were 1,2-dichloroethylene and 1,1-dichloroethylene, which are breakdown products of trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene.

If you are a Camp Lejeune veteran or a family member of one who drank toxic water at the military base and now struggle with a related disease, we strongly encourage you to contact our experienced attorneys, who have been handling toxic exposure claims for over 30 years. They will gladly help you find out whether you are entitled to financial compensation for your suffering.

File your Camp Lejeune water contamination claim with the assistance of our diligent attorneys

Since 1990, our mission has been to provide quality legal assistance to toxic exposure victims, including numerous veterans. If your health was compromised by drinking contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, our attorneys will review your case to determine whether you are eligible to file a claim. As a veteran, you will only have to send our legal team your military records, which you must retrieve, and your medical records to have your case evaluated. Family members will need to submit evidence of their stay at the military base in addition to their medical records.

After a comprehensive assessment, we will let you know if you are eligible to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim. We prioritize veterans and family members, as we understand that many struggle financially due to the high cost of treatment, so we will file your claim as soon as possible. If you are too ill to participate in the legal process, you do not have to worry, as you can have a family member help you, and our compassionate team will also do all in its power to make it easy to navigate for you. Our law firm works on a contingency fee basis.