What Caused The Water Contamination At Camp Lejeune?

Categories: Camp Lejeune

What Caused The Water Contamination At Camp Lejeune - US Drug Lawsuit Mcewen Law Firm Personal Injury Attorney

If you served at the Camp Lejeune U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina between 1953-1987, or you were at the base for any extended period of time, you were exposed to highly contaminated drinking water. You could be at a higher risk for a host of serious diseases as a result.

The McEwen Law Firm is representing people who suffered exposure, and we’re ready to help you obtain substantial compensation. If you would like to learn more about what our firm may be able to do for you, please use our online contact form or give us a call at (800) 732-3070.

What Contaminants Were In The Camp Lejeune Water Supply?

There were two main water treatment plants serving the Camp Lejeune base – the Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace plants. The most dangerous contaminants found in these plants were trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene and vinyl chloride. All of them are associated with severe health issues. Here’s a quick look at each.

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

The Hadnot plant was contaminated with TCE, a chemical that is found in a wide range of household items. These include carpet cleaners, cleaning wipes, tool cleaners and many others. The military typically used TCE as a substance to remove grease. Not only did TCE contaminate groundwater in and around the base, but soil as well.

Perchloroethylene (PCE)

The main source of Camp Lejeune water contaminated with PCE was the Tarawa Terrace plant. This chemical is primarily used in dry cleaning, and there was a dry cleaning operation located near the base. The dry cleaning company reportedly followed dangerously negligent waste disposal procedures, and it’s believed this is why PCE levels were much higher than accepted standards.


Benzene is typically used to create other chemicals, which are then used in the manufacture of materials such as plastic, synthetic fibers and nylon. This chemical also plays a key role in the production of many different types of detergents, drugs and pesticides. Exposure to this chemical has been linked to a form of cancer known as multiple myeloma. It has also been associated with issues during pregnancy, including miscarriages.

Vinyl Chloride

Unlike the other contaminants, which are liquids, vinyl chloride is a type of gas. It’s primarily used to make PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. PVC is one of the more commonly used materials to manufacture pipes, as well as packing materials. Vinyl chloride exposure has been linked to cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, and other health problems.

Why Was The Water At Camp Lejeune Contaminated In The First Place?

There are a lot of potential reasons why Camp Lejeune water became so dangerously contaminated. As you learned earlier, a dry cleaning business located close to the base dumped chemical-filled wastewater into drains for decades.

For years, the Marine Corps maintained that the chemicals that contaminated the base’s drinking water were not regulated – and that is the case for PCE and other solvents. However, the dangers of these chemicals were well known as far back as the 1970s. Contaminated wells at other bases, such as Pennsyania’s Warminster Naval Air Warfare Center and Willow Grove Naval Air Station, were closed.

According to uncovered documents, the Marine Corps was aware that the solvents in Camp Lejeune water were dangerous as early as 1974. They established rules regarding the proper disposal of hazardous waste materials, but they never released that documentation to investigators.

How Were People Exposed To The Contaminated Water?

Whether someone served at Camp Lejeune, was a family member of someone serving, or was on the base serving in a civilian capacity, they were exposed to incredibly dangerous water in many different ways.

Everyone has to use water in some form just about every day – whether they use it to shower or take a bath, to drink, to cook, or to simply rinse their mouth after brushing their teeth. Doing this with contaminated water day after day, year after year can pose a huge health risk. Unfortunately, far too many people are having to deal with exactly that.

Who Was Exposed To The Contaminated Water At Camp Lejeune?

It’s estimated that nearly 1 million people suffered exposure to severely contaminated water between 1953 and 1987. Many of them developed health problems without having the slightest idea why. Men and women were serving their country, and they were rewarded by becoming seriously ill.

These are just some of the groups of people who suffered exposure.

  • Service members (especially U.S. Marines)
  • Their family members
  • Contractors
  • Visitors
  • And many others

A particularly vulnerable group included pregnant women, who were put at a much higher risk for having children with spina bifida and other terrible birth defects. There is even a chance children were at a higher risk of developing cancer as well.

Who Is Responsible For The Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows veterans and other individuals diagnosed with severe health issues due to contaminated water to pursue compensation. Many victims are obtaining legal help to take action against not only the U.S. government, but other parties that may share liability as well. The Act set aside $2 billion in compensation, while the VA (the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) has made $350 million available. The VA has also made $75 million available for the surviving members of servicemen and women who passed away due to health issues associated with water contamination.

Contact An Experienced Toxic Exposure Lawyer Today

If you were either diagnosed with a disease linked to water contamination, or lost a loved one who served at Camp Lejeune, the McEwen Law Firm is ready to help. It’s unconscionable that people should become sick just by using water – and it’s even worse that authorities allowed this to happen for more than 30 years.

Please get in touch with our firm as soon as you can to learn more about your potential legal options. You can give us a call at (800) 732-3070, or you can contact us online to schedule a free consultation.