Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
NC Veterans Benefits Attorney for Victims of Contaminated Water
If you were stationed at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina between 1953 and 1987, then you and your family may have been exposed to contaminated water. During that time, several water treatment facilities supplying the base contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may lead to fatal cancers, birth defects and other serious conditions. Although the base did suspend operation of the affected wells upon discovery of the chemicals, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that up to 900,000 servicemen and women as well as their families were exposed to toxic substances over a 30 year period. These individuals have the right to file a claim for compensation as well as veterans disability benefits.
Recently, the federal government issued a notice that it will provide $2 billion to veterans who were exposed to contaminated drinking water and who suffered one of the accepted medical conditions presumed to be connected to the contaminated water. We believe that at some point in the future, benefits or compensation may also be extended to family members of military members who suffered from one of these medical conditions.
Were you or someone you love exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune? A veterans benefits attorney from Riddle & Brantley, LLP can assist you in filing for the compensation you deserve. As a North Carolina law firm, our legal team is close to military bases such as Camp Lejeune and our staff shares a commitment to representing injured veterans. We can explain your rights, including your right to new benefits in 2017, and represent your claim.
UPDATE: Camp Lejeune Injury Victims to Receive Additional Benefits in 2017
As of January 13, 2017, victims of contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune may be able to collect additional disability benefits, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Starting in March of 2017, veterans may qualify for further cash benefits, in addition to their existing disability benefits. To obtain these extra payments, veterans must have been stationed at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. These additional benefits are primarily for veterans who developed one of these eight diseases:
Benefits are available to those who were or are active duty military members as well as those in the Reserve and National Guard. To qualify, you must submit records to confirm both your diagnosis and your military record.
According to the VA, up to 23,000 veterans may be eligible for these new benefits, which could total $2.2 billion in payments over five years. However, estimates show that up to 900,000 service members may have a history of exposure to toxic water. Therefore, while this additional compensation is a positive step, many victims may still be left searching for justice.
What is the History of the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
Tests in 1982 revealed two different VOCs in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, and subsequent tests found further contaminants. All of these toxic chemicals can have disastrous effects on the human body if ingested.
The Tarawa Terrace Treatment Plant’s water had traces of perchloroethylene (PCE). This is a colorless and odorless compound typically used in the dry cleaning process. An investigation into the issue revealed that an off-base dry cleaning company’s waste removal practice was the source of the contamination. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) concluded that the levels of PCE in Tarawa Terrace Treatment Plant’s water supply were nearly 300 times more than the standard limits during the 1957 – 1987 window.
At Hadnot Point Treatment Plant, a volatile anesthetic known as TCE, or trichloroethylene, contaminated the water supply. Local industrial spills, waste removal methods and faulty underground storage tanks ultimately caused this contamination.
Other substances detected in certain wells in Camp Lejeune include benzene, toluene and methylene chloride. Benzene and toluene are both components of gasoline and other industrial fuels. Methylene chloride is a paint remover and chemical solvent. In the end, investigators concluded that both on-base and off-base sources contributed to the contamination.
What are the Side Effects of Contaminant Exposure?
Any of the harmful VOCs found in Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water can cause poisoning or death when ingested in sufficient quantities. However, prolonged exposure to small amounts of these chemicals, while not immediately fatal, can cause serious, long-lasting side effects. These may range from mild effects to severe conditions. The chemicals may cause certain cancers as well as other complications in children or infants.
Some of these side effects of exposure to Camp Lejeune water contamination include:
A 2005 study conducted by ATSDR examined the effects that Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water might have on the children of those with firsthand exposure. That study found the rate of spina bifida, cleft lip or palate and childhood leukemia was higher in this group.
Do I Have a Claim If I Lived at Camp Lejeune?
If you were military personnel, civilian employee or family member residing at Camp Lejeune during the 30 years that the base’s water was contaminated, you have the right to file an injury lawsuit.
In 2012, the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act became law. This act provides medical care for those exposed to chemical contaminants on the base who later developed one of 15 eligible conditions. Still, those suffering from other health issues or illnesses can still file claims for benefits. Additionally, the Janey Ensminger Act ensures that family members of personnel stationed at the base receive opportunities for benefits and treatments. In 2017, the VA expanded possible benefits available to victims of this contaminated water.
If you are a veteran who was stationed at Camp Lejeune, then you may be able to file for disability benefits and other compensation if you developed a serious health condition. An experienced North Carolina veterans benefits attorney from our law firm can explain your rights and work to ensure you get the compensation you need for medical treatments.
Questions About Camp Lejeune? Contact a Veterans Benefits Attorney Today
For more than 30 years, military members and their families suffered exposure to dangerous chemicals through Camp Lejeune’s water supply. The illnesses that may develop from such exposure are often life-altering or even fatal. Additionally, the financial cost of treating their symptoms is a heavy burden to bear without rightful compensation. However, even now victims may find it difficult to get veterans disability benefits or other compensation from the military.
But you have legal rights and our attorneys can help you assert them.
Riddle & Brantley, LLP offers FREE case evaluations for veterans and civilians who believe their illness is a result of exposure to toxic chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s water supply. Contact a veterans benefits attorney at our law firm for the legal advice you need and the help you deserve. We proudly serve clients from our offices in Goldsboro and Raleigh as well as Jacksonville and Kinston.
Fill out our free case evaluation form or call 800-525-7111 to take the first step today.