The Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit has brought to light the devastating consequences of environmental neglect on veterans and their families. For decades, the water supply at Camp Lejeune, a U.S. Marine Corps base, was contaminated with toxic chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other hazardous substances.
As a result, military personnel, their families, and civilian employees were exposed to these contaminants, leading to severe health issues such as cancers, birth defects, and neurological disorders.
This article delves into the cost of environmental neglect in the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit and its consequences for veterans and their families, highlighting the health effects, legal actions, government response, and lessons learned.
Overview of the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The Camp Lejeune water contamination incident resulted from the military’s negligence in monitoring and controlling industrial solvents used on-site. Starting from the early 1950s, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune became contaminated, and the most affected wells were closed down by 1985.
Since the late 1980s, ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) has been evaluating the health risks of hazardous substances in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water.
The contamination of the drinking water at Camp Lejeune could have exposed up to one million military and civilian personnel, along with their families, to hazardous substances.
The toxins included trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and benzene, all known carcinogens, and have resulted in many serious health problems for those who drank from these wells during this period.
Health Effects of Water Contamination
According to AboutLawsuits.com, reports indicate that the presence of toxic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune could be responsible for over 50,000 cases of breast cancer, 28,000 cases of bladder cancer, and 24,000 cases of renal cancer, along with several instances of Parkinson’s disease and other health complications.
Additionally, exposure to Camp Lejeune water during pregnancy could result in birth defects and wrongful deaths of thousands of unborn children. Specific research links former Camp Lejeune employees to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, and the Department of Veterans Affairs includes Parkinson’s disease as a qualifying condition for lawsuits concerning Camp Lejeune water contamination.
Legal Actions and Lawsuits
The Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit is one of U.S. history’s largest and most complex environmental health cases. The lawsuit covers claims against the federal government by veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, their spouses, and children born with birth defects or other medical conditions that may have been caused by contaminated water at the base.
According to Roll Call, the proportion of cases involving wrongful death suits instead of claims for illnesses is increasing, as more Marines and their families affected by the polluted water seek legal recourse. The revised law permits individuals who resided, worked, or were exposed to hazardous substances at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days before 1987, including those who were in utero at the time, to file lawsuits.
Despite the Navy and Marine Corps disavowal of responsibility for the health issues caused by the contamination since its detection in 1982, roughly 20,000 claims for damages were filed with the Navy Judge Advocate General after the legislation was enacted on August 10.
The Payout for Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
The exact amount of the payout for the Camp Lejeune lawsuit is difficult to estimate. However, TorHoerman Law, LLC states that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that the total cost of Camp Lejeune’s settlement payouts and legal costs would reach $6.7 billion.
The law firm also states that the specific settlement amount for each case would vary depending on factors such as the type of injuries sustained, diagnosed medical conditions, duration of stay at the base, and other relevant considerations.
Settlements may also include compensation for losses like medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, and other damages. Depending on the circumstances, individual settlements for exposure to the polluted water at Camp Lejeune could be substantial.
Government and Military Response
The government and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) have responded to the Camp Lejeune water contamination issue with investigations, reports, and actions, albeit with mixed results.
Several studies have been conducted to determine the extent of the contamination and its impact on veterans and their families. The DoD has issued reports acknowledging the contamination and its health effects and has implemented measures to provide medical care and compensation to affected individuals.
However, criticism has been raised regarding the timeliness and adequacy of the response. Some veterans and their families feel that the government’s efforts have fallen short in addressing their health and well-being.
Lessons Learned and Call for Action
The Camp Lejeune water contamination issue has highlighted crucial lessons that must be learned and acted upon. It underscores the urgent need for stronger environmental regulations and improved oversight of military bases to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.
It also emphasizes the critical importance of protecting the health and well-being of military personnel and their families who serve our nation. There should be a call for action and reform to ensure that affected veterans and their families receive the support, compensation, and medical care they rightfully deserve.
This includes advocating for policies prioritizing environmental safety, robust oversight of military installations, and adequate resources for addressing the health needs of those affected.
The Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit has shed light on the devastating consequences of environmental neglect on veterans and their families. The physical, emotional, and financial toll of the health effects caused by the contamination has been significant, with challenges in obtaining proper medical care, dealing with disability and long-term care, and coping with the emotional impact.
The Camp Lejeune water contamination serves as a poignant reminder of the need for continued efforts to seek justice, raise awareness, and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future to protect the health and well-being of our military personnel and their families.