For decades, thousands of Marines, their families, and civilian employees stationed at Camp Lejeune, a military base in North Carolina, were unknowingly exposed to toxic chemicals in their drinking water.
The contamination, caused by a combination of industrial pollution and faulty waste disposal practices, resulted in one of the worst cases of environmental negligence in U.S. history.
This article will examine the human cost of environmental negligence through the lens of the Camp Lejeune water contamination story. It will explore the extent of the contamination, the health effects on those exposed, and the struggle for justice by victims and their families.
Let’s get started!
The Extent of the Contamination: How Did It Happen?
The contamination of the water supply at Camp Lejeune was a result of several factors, including industrial pollution, improper waste disposal, and inadequate regulation.
For over three decades, from the 1950s to the 1980s, thousands of Marines, their families, and civilian employees were exposed to toxic chemicals, including perchloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, trichloroethylene (TCE), and benzene.
The scale of the contamination was staggering. According to estimates, as many as one million people may have been exposed to contaminated water during this period. Between 2017 and 2021, over 57,000 disability claims related to the Camp Lejeune water contamination were filed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The contamination occurred through several pathways, including the disposal of solvents and other hazardous materials into unlined pits and landfills, which allowed the chemicals to seep into the groundwater. The base also had several fuel and chemical storage facilities, which contributed to the contamination.
The Health Effects of Exposure: From Cancer to Birth Defects
The health effects of exposure to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune have been severe and long-lasting. Many people who were exposed to the contaminated water have developed a range of illnesses, including cancer, neurological disorders, and birth defects.
Cancer is one of the most common health effects associated with exposure to the chemicals at Camp Lejeune. People who were exposed to the contaminated water have a higher risk of developing several types of cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, and bladder cancer, as per the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
Neurological disorders are another significant health effect associated with exposure to the chemicals at Camp Lejeune. Studies have linked exposure to TCE, a common industrial solvent found in the water at Camp Lejeune, to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.
Exposure to contaminated water has also been associated with an increased risk of birth defects. The ATSDR has found that women exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune during pregnancy may have an increased risk of delivering babies with birth defects, including neural tube defects, cleft lip and palate, and low birth weight.
The Fight for Justice: Legal Actions Taken
The fight for justice for those affected by Camp Lejeune water contamination has been a long and ongoing battle. Over the years, several lawsuits have been filed against the U.S. government and other parties responsible for the contamination.
In 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was signed into law, allowing individuals to file claims for compensation for their health problems related to water contamination at Camp Lejeune. As a result, many people have sought legal action to recover damages for their losses.
The fight for justice for those affected by the contamination still continues. It is important for those who have been impacted to seek legal representation and explore their options for recovering damages. TorHoerman Law is a reputable law firm with a track record of success in environmental litigation and may be able to help those affected to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit.
The firm has a team of experienced attorneys who are committed to fighting for the rights of those who have been harmed by environmental negligence. TorHoerman Law has a proven track record of success, having recovered billions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for their clients.
In addition to its experience in environmental litigation, the firm has also represented clients in other areas of law, including personal injury, medical malpractice, and product liability. They are dedicated to providing their clients with the highest level of legal representation and personalized attention.
What’s Next: Future Challenges and Opportunities for Environmental Justice
While the Camp Lejeune water contamination is just one example of environmental negligence, it highlights the need for continued efforts to protect human health and the environment.
One significant challenge is the ongoing issue of toxic contamination in our water, air, and soil. As new contaminants are discovered, it is essential to regulate and manage them to prevent exposure and mitigate their health effects. There is also a need for increased public awareness of environmental issues and their impact on human health, as well as access to information and resources to address these concerns.
Another challenge is ensuring that those responsible for environmental contamination are held accountable, and that affected individuals have access to justice and compensation. The legal system has a critical role to play in holding polluters accountable and providing remedies for those harmed by environmental negligence.
However, there are also opportunities for environmental justice, including the development of new technologies and practices that reduce environmental harm and promote sustainability. These may include alternative energy sources, sustainable agriculture, and green technologies that reduce waste and pollution.
There is also an opportunity for community involvement and grassroots activism to address environmental issues. By advocating for change, raising awareness, and working collaboratively with government agencies and other stakeholders, communities can play a critical role in promoting environmental justice and protecting human health.
By raising awareness of the Camp Lejeune water contamination story, this article aims to contribute to the ongoing conversation around environmental justice and the need for greater accountability and action to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.
It is our hope that it will inspire readers to take action, whether through advocacy, grassroots activism, or seeking legal representation, to promote environmental justice and protect the health and well-being of ourselves and our communities.