The toxic chemicals that lurked in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune

Michael Bartlett

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on May 12th, 2023

For nearly 35 years, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune posed a health threat to everyone living there, as it was contaminated with volatile organic compounds. Today, over 500,000 veterans might come to struggle with crippling diseases as a consequence of unwittingly drinking toxic water at the military base during the last century.

Between 1953 and 1987, two of the eight drinking water supplies at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, were contaminated with industrial solvents. At Hadnot Point, the highest trichloroethylene level was 1,400 ppb, which exceeds the safe exposure limit by 280 times. At Tarawa Terrace, the greatest perchloroethylene level was 215 ppb, eclipsing the safe exposure limit by 43 times. The source of these toxic solvents was ABC One-Hour Cleaners, a dry-cleaning firm located near Camp Lejeune. However, service members would also use solvents to clean up weapons and equipment at the military base, improperly disposing of the products.

Other toxic agents lurking in the water and environment of the military facility include:

  • vinyl chloride
  • benzene

Nevertheless, recent studies found that there might have been up to 70 hazardous chemicals at Camp Lejeune. Benzene contamination most likely occurred due to approximately 800,000 gallons of fuel that leaked from the military base's fuel farm. Furthermore, mercury was detected at the facility - in the fall of 2012, twelve pounds of mercury were found at Hadnot Point. The water plant was offline for a few weeks to clean up the heavy metal.

It was only in 1982 that the U.S. Marine Corps found volatile organic compounds in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. The supply wells were contaminated by leaking underground storage tanks, waste disposal sites, and industrial area spills. In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deemed Camp Lejeune a Superfund site and subsequently began carrying out intense cleanup activities to remove toxic agents from the 156,000-acre military installation. The U.S. Navy disposed of the following:

  • contaminated soils
  • drums
  • above-ground storage tanks
  • underground storage tanks
  • batteries
  • waste liquids

Between 2001 and 2009, the U.S. Navy removed 48,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds from the soil of the military base. It also installed a groundwater treatment system and a bio-treatment cell for contaminated soil. Camp Lejeune has multiple pilot and treatability studies ongoing to optimize current groundwater treatment technologies across the military base. The pilot studies include subgrade biodegradation reactors, air sparging, bioaugmentation, enhanced reductive dechlorination, air sparging, and in-situ chemical oxidation.

File your Camp Lejeune water contamination claim with our assistance

Since 1990, we have been assisting veterans injured by toxic exposure in obtaining the financial compensation they were entitled to. If you are a Marine veteran or a family member of one who spent time at Camp Lejeune while the drinking water was contaminated and now struggle with a disease, you might be eligible to file a claim. To initiate the legal process as a veteran, you just have to send our skilled attorneys your military records, which you must retrieve, and your medical records.

Family members will have to provide our legal team with evidence of their stay at Camp Lejeune in addition to their medical records. After a careful and thorough assessment of your case, we will let you know whether you are entitled to compensation under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and from the VA if you are a veteran. Eventually, if our endeavors are fruitful, you will receive the money you deserve for your unjust physical and emotional suffering.