Congress Moves on New Bill that Gives Hope to Victims of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
In March 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new bipartisan measure called The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. If signed into law, the new bill would give service members and their families a way to seek financial compensation for injuries and illnesses suffered as a result of contaminated water at the military base in North Carolina.
If you or a loved one worked or served at the Camp Lejeune location between August 1953 and December 1987 and you later developed serious health conditions, you may be eligible to file a claim should this bill become law.
Testing Shows Drinking Water Contaminated at Camp Lejeune
Warnings about potential problems with Camp Lejeune’s water supply first surfaced in 1980. Water samples showed contamination with toxic chemicals like the following:
Also called perchloroethylene (PERC), this is a liquid solvent primarily used in dry cleaning operations, textile processing, and metal manufacturing. Exposure can cause kidney, liver, immune system, hematologic system, development, and reproduction problems. Long-term exposure can also cause neurological effects, such as impaired cognitive and motor function.
This chemical is used in many industries, usually as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts, but also as an ingredient in adhesives, paint removers, and spot removers. Trichloroethylene is a known carcinogen. Exposure to this chemical is associated with several types of cancers in humans, especially kidney, liver, cervix, and cancers in the lymphatic system.
Benzene is used as a constituent in motor fuels; as a solvent for fats, waxes, resins, oils, inks, paints, plastics, and rubber; in the extraction of oils from seeds and nuts; and the manufacture of detergents, explosives, pharmaceuticals, and dyestuffs. Chronic exposure can cause blood disorders, reproductive problems, and leukemia. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified benzene as a known human carcinogen.
VA Denies Benefits to a Large Percentage of Applicants
Research showed that the contaminated wells had been in service at the military camp for up to 30 years. It took the military until 1984 to shut one down, and until 1985 to finally shut down the rest.
The question after that was: How did the contamination affect human health on the base?
The U.S. Marine Corps glossed over the issue for years. They released a booklet in 2010 that provided questions and answers regarding Camp Lejeune’s drinking water history. The U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, noted in September 2010 that this booklet was misleading in several regards.
Meanwhile, Congress passed laws in 2012 and again in 2017 to give military members and their families who were exposed to contaminated water access to healthcare benefits. Investigations, however, indicated that many of those who applied for these benefits were denied.
That’s why Congress is now pushing the new bipartisan bill. Should the bill become law, those who were exposed to contaminated drinking water during water between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, will have a two-year window to file claims for damages against the United States Government.
At the time of this writing, the bill had moved from the U.S. House of Representatives to the Senate.