Helping Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Victims in Oklahoma
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is the site of one of the worst water contamination cases in US history. The base was a frequent pollution spot where oil, industrial wastewater, and toxic chemicals used as degreasers and solvents were all knowingly dumped in the local storm drains between 1952 and 1987, contaminating the local water supply for 35 years.
The military base was labeled as a major polluter by the Environmental Protection Agency. Reports from 1980 discuss how buried fuel tanks could leak and taint the drinking water of the area. Only in 1982 was the water tested, and proper disposal techniques were outlined in 1984. However, the damage was already done, and everyone on the base and in the surrounding area was exposed.
The victims are heroes commissioned to work at the base who gave themselves to serve their country, their families who believed they were safe within the military installation, and countless other unsuspecting personnel who worked in and around the base that was exposed.
Though there are thousands of reported cases, the total effects of the contamination and the range to which it spread are still under ongoing investigation.
Though the pollution started at Camp Lejeune, most of those stationed at the marine corps base left over the 30-year contamination. These people are now fighting for their lives across the country. Despite the thousands of stories told by victims of this tragedy, there are still thousands more unaccounted for in the United States.
Anyone who lived in or near the base for 30 days is likely to develop illnesses through ingesting and bathing in the contaminated water. The known injuries are numerous and varied.
- Breast Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Renal Toxicity/Kidney damage
President Biden has signed the “Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022” (S.3373) into law. The Act allows military veterans to file civil lawsuits against the U.S. Government for harm caused by at least thirty days of exposure (including in utero exposure) to water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987.
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina is the exclusive venue for actions brought pursuant to the Act. The Act precludes the U.S. Government from asserting immunity that otherwise would be available in response to litigation. The law also overrides a North Carolina statute of repose that precludes the filing of tort claims after ten years.
Punitive damages are not available for claims brought under the Act and awards will be offset by the amount of any disability award, payment, or benefit received by the claimant from any program administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Medicare program, or the Medicaid program in connection with health care or a disability relating to exposure to water supplied by or on behalf of the U.S. Government at Camp Lejeune.
The Act was folded into a broader law (the “Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022” or “Honoring our PACT Act of 2022”) that enhances health care and disability claims for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits and certain other service-related toxic exposures.