The Price of Service: The Tragic Legacy of Camp Lejeune’s Water Supply

Camp Lejeune, a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina, was home to one of the largest water contamination incidents in American history. From the 1950s to the 1980s, toxic chemicals, including trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), were released into the base’s drinking water supply. 

The contaminated water exposed military personnel, their families, and civilian employees to serious health risks, including an increased risk of cancer and other health problems. The Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuit is still ongoing, and law firms like TorHoerman Law are actively fighting to deliver justice to those affected. In this article, we will provide a brief overview of the article from start to finish. 

The Background

Camp Lejeune, a sprawling Marine Corps base located in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was home to a drinking water contamination crisis that lasted for decades. Beginning in the 1950s and continuing into the 1980s, toxic chemicals were released into the base’s drinking water supply, exposing thousands of military personnel, their families, and civilian employees to dangerous health risks. 

The two primary chemicals found in the water were trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), which are known to cause cancer and other serious health issues. The contamination was first discovered in the 1980s, but it was not until the late 1990s that the full extent of the crisis became public.

According to estimates, as many as one million people may have been exposed to contaminated water during the decades-long crisis. In the years since the contamination was discovered, the government and the military have been criticized for their handling of the situation, including delays in informing those affected and failing to provide adequate health care to victims.

The Impact

The impact of the Camp Lejeune water contamination crisis on military personnel, their families, and civilian employees was devastating. Many were exposed to toxic chemicals for years without their knowledge and, as a result, suffered serious health consequences.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has been linked to a variety of health problems, including several types of cancer, birth defects, preterm birth neurological disorders, and other serious health conditions. It is estimated that the contamination may have led to hundreds or even thousands of premature deaths.

The families of military personnel stationed at Camp Lejeune were also heavily impacted by the crisis. Children born to mothers exposed to contaminated water during pregnancy were more likely to suffer from birth defects, including neural tube defects and cleft palate. The long-term health effects of the contamination have been felt for decades, with many families struggling to cope with the physical, emotional, and financial toll of the crisis.

Despite efforts by the government and military to address the health concerns of those affected, many continue to suffer from the effects of the contamination, and the long-term health consequences of the crisis are still being felt today.

The Response

The government and military’s response to the Camp Lejeune water contamination crisis has been criticized by many as inadequate and slow. The crisis began in the 1950s, but it was not until the 1980s that the contamination was discovered. It was only in the late 1990s that the full extent of the crisis was made public.

Initially, the government and military denied that the contamination posed a significant risk to the health of those exposed. However, as evidence mounted and the number of people affected continued to grow, they began to take action.

In 2012, the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act were signed into law, providing health care to those affected by the contamination. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, Any veteran who spent a minimum of 30 days in the camp from 1953 to 1987 qualifies for completely free treatment for any health complications they develop under this law. 

Additionally, some have criticized the government and military for failing to adequately inform those affected about the risks posed by the contaminated water and for failing to take timely action to address the crisis. While progress has been made in recent years to address the issue, many believe that more needs to be done to address the ongoing health consequences of the crisis. 

The Legal Battle 

Following the Camp Lejeune water contamination crisis, many victims and their families sought justice through the legal system. Lawsuits alleged negligence and other forms of misconduct by the government and military.

One significant legal battle was a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of thousands of people affected by the contamination. While it is still too early to predict how much will be paid out in the settlement, a good indication might be found in the Department of Justice budget. According to the Lawsuit Information Center, the government has allocated $22 billion for the settlements, indicating a major settlement down the line.

While legal action has brought some justice to those affected by the crisis, many believe that more needs to be done to hold the government and military accountable for their actions. The legal battle for justice is ongoing, and its outcome will have important implications for the many people whose lives have been forever changed by this tragedy.

The Aftermath 

Efforts have been made to clean up the contaminated areas and prevent future incidents of water contamination following the Camp Lejeune tragedy. The government and military have taken extensive measures to treat contaminated soil and water, install new water treatment systems, and prevent future incidents.

The Safe Drinking Water Act was amended to include contaminants that are not currently regulated, and the Department of Defense has established a program to address environmental risks at military installations. The EPA has also increased its oversight of military facilities to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

But despite these progresses made, the victims still await justice. CNN tells the story of Ann Johnson, the daughter of a master gunnery sergeant at the base. She lost her daughter of seven weeks due to serious health complications at birth. The stress from the incident also strained her marriage until she and her husband separated. He married again and managed to have two healthy children. 

Ann told CNN that although financial compensation for what she had to go through would be nice, that is not what she is after. All she wants is for someone to take responsibility and say that the reason could have been the water she consumed and that the death of her child was not her fault. This is the human cost that is at stake. Something that cannot and should not be measured in terms of money. 

The Camp Lejeune water contamination tragedy has had far-reaching effects on military personnel and their families. While progress has been made in cleanup and prevention efforts, the legal and health impacts of the crisis continue to be felt.

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