Camp Lejeune Water Contamination - Important Information You Need to Know

Updated: Jun 16



The U.S. House of Representatives last May passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which would create an exception to the long-standing rule that the government is not liable for injuries sustained by members of the armed services.


The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 would permit military personnel and families to pursue financial compensation for illnesses and injuries they believe were caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The bill, which has passed the House, will proceed to the Senate for approval. If approved there, it will be up to the President to sign it into law.


This blog presents historical and current information for military personnel and families who believe they have been sickened by Camp Lejeune contaminated drinking water and would wish to pursue compensation under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, if and when it becomes law.


If you, or anyone you know, became sick from drinking the water at Camp Lejeune, please contact us at Galindo Law for legal help at (888) 980-1808.



FAQs include:


  1. What is the history of Camp Lejeune polluted drinking water?

  2. What is Camp Lejeune drinking water contaminated with?

  3. Did military officials know about Camp Lejeune water pollution?

  4. How extensive was Camp Lejeune water contamination?

  5. Are there resources at present for Camp Lejeune polluted drinking water victims

  6. Does Camp Lejeune tainted drinking water cause cancer?

  7. What illnesses are associated with Camp Lejeune drinking water?

  8. Are there any tests to find if one has been affected by Camp Lejeune contaminants?

  9. How likely is one to become ill after exposure to Camp Lejeune water pollutants?

  10. How can Marine Corps or Navy retirees obtain their military medical records?

  11. What happens if and when the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 becomes Law?

  12. How likely is it that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 will become law?

  13. Why should I hire a Camp Lejeune attorney?

  14. What does it cost to hire a Camp Lejeune attorney?


1. What is the history of Camp Lejeune polluted drinking water?

Between 1953 through 1985, military personnel and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune drank and bathed in water contaminated with toxins at concentrations from 240 to 3400 times levels permitted by safety standards.


2. What is Camp Lejeune drinking water polluted with?


An excess of 70 contaminants have been found in Camp Lejeune drinking water. Probable sources include solvents from a dry-cleaning company that was near the base, on-base use of chemicals to clean military gear, and leaking underground fuel storage tanks.


The primary contaminant was volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Along with being alleged human carcinogens, VOCs are known to cause eye, nose, and/or throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination; and nausea. Prolonged exposure can damage the liver, kidneys, and CNS. Examples are perchloroethylene (PCE), used for dry cleaning, and trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial degreaser. (See source).


Other contaminants found in the tainted wells were:


  • Benzene—found in crude oil and a major constituent of gasoline, it is used to make plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides

  • Vinyl chloride—used primarily to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a variety of plastic employed to make pipes, wire coatings, and packaging materials


3. Did military officials know about Camp Lejeune water pollution?


A private company hired by the USMC in 1982 to investigate the alleged contamination repeatedly warned base officials that Camp Lejeune water was contaminated. A company representative has stated that he and the base chemist together alerted the lieutenant colonel in charge of base utilities about the contamination in July 1982, but he refused to discuss it.


A company chemist subsequently sent a letter to the base commander warning that Camp Lejeune wells were poisoned, but they were nonetheless kept online. The company afterward sent additional warnings in December 1982, as well as in March and September 1983.


Incredibly, marine officials reported to the EPA spring 1983 that there were no environmental problems at Lejeune; and when the North Carolina DEQ Water Resources Division asked Lejeune officials for the company’s lab reports in June 1983, they refused (see source).


4. How extensive was Camp Lejeune water contamination?


Camp Lejeune water pollution is one of the most significant cases of water contamination in US history. Not only were military personnel and families exposed to pollutants at levels 240 to 3400 times higher than applicable safety standards; according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), nearly 900,000 military personnel were exposed to the contaminated water.


5. Are there resources at present for Camp Lejeune contaminated drinking water victims?


The VA has established a “presumptive service connection” regarding the health effects of Lejeune water pollution, thereby providing healthcare at no cost to qualifying service members who were at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987.


However, these benefits do not provide affected military personnel and families with full and fair compensation for their suffering—an injustice exacerbated by the historical prohibition against suing the government for injuries sustained in the course of military duty.


The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, if passed by the Senate and signed by the President, would eliminate this historical proscription, allowing military personnel and families injured by Camp Lejeune tainted drinking water to pursue a claim against the government.


6. Does Camp Lejeune tainted drinking water cause cancer?


The scientific literature is not definitive regarding the health damages caused by chemicals present in Camp Lejeune drinking water. But because people exposed to those chemicals are associated with several cancers and other chronic conditions, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has been conducting studies to determine whether there is an increased risk of mortality from cancers and other chronic conditions.


While these studies have so far not produced definitive evidence, they have added to the body of knowledge regarding causality. Per the ATSDR, military personnel and families who were potentially harmed by Camp Lejeune drinking water will receive no direct benefit from these studies, but the information gained will help advance research on this topic.


The degree of danger relative to the contaminants found in Camp Lejeune drinking water vary according to one’s age at the time of exposure, along with the duration and manner of that exposure. Young children, pregnant women, and anyone who drank Camp Lejeune water bear the greatest risk (see source).


7. What illnesses are associated with Camp Lejeune drinking water?


Some cancers associated with Camp Lejeune polluted drinking water include:


  • Adult leukemia—a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes a large number of abnormal blood cells

  • Aplastic anemia—a condition in which the body stops producing enough new blood cells as a result of bone marrow damage

  • Multiple myeloma—a sickness wherein cancerous plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow and crowd out healthy blood cells

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma—a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system, causing white blood cells to grow abnormally and create tumors throughout the body

  • Kidney, liver, breast, and bladder cancers


Some noncancerous conditions associated with Camp Lejeune tainted drinking water are:



8. Are there any tests to determine if one has been affected by Camp Lejeune contaminants?


There are no specific tests medically recommended to measure the amount or the effect of exposure to the Camp Lejeune water pollutants. And organic compounds leave the body within a week after the last exposure, which at Camp Lejeune was many years ago. Instead, exposed persons can only monitor their health by way of regular medical checkups and consultation with their physician.


9. How likely is one to become ill after exposure to Camp Lejeune water pollutants?


It is important to remember that many persons exposed to Camp Lejeune contaminants never suffer health problems. Others do, and the odds of becoming ill depend on a number of factors. These include:


  • To which chemicals one was exposed

  • During what years one suffered such exposure, as pollutant levels varied over time

  • One’s age at the time of exposure (e.g. fetus, a child, or adult)

  • Degree of exposure

  • Genetic predisposition

  • Lifetime exposures to other environmental or occupational hazards

  • Lifestyle issues (e.g. tobacco, alcohol, sedentariness, obesity)

Another confounding factor can be medications that one has taken over time that are known or alleged to cause cancer (see source). These include:



10. How can Marine Corps or Navy retirees obtain their military medical records?


A Marine Corps or Navy retiree can obtain his or her military medical records by contacting the National Personnel Records Center, which is the repository for personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services (see source).


Information from the records is provided upon written request to the extent allowed by law. Along with having a dated signature, such requests must contain adequate information to locate the record, minimally:


  • Complete name as it appears on the service records

  • Service number or social security number

  • Branch of service

  • Dates of service


Date and place of birth will also be helpful, especially if the service number is lost.


(If the request refers to a record that might have been involved in the 1973 Records Center fire, also include one’s place of discharge, the last unit of assignment, and the place of entry into the service, if known.)


The written request should be sent to:


National Personnel Records Center

Military Personnel Records

9700 Page Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63132-5100


For additional information, see the NPRC website.


11. What happens if and when the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 becomes Law?


If and when the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 becomes law, service personnel and families who were exposed to the drinking water at Camp Lejeune will be able to file a claim for damages against the US government, doing so in the Eastern District of North Carolina.


Requirements to file a claim will include and likely not be limited to:


  • Documentable exposure to Camp Lejeune drinking water for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987

  • Expert medical testimony to explain to the court the connection between one’s illness and exposure to the contaminated water


The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 will also allow people to seek compensation for the loss of their military loved ones who have died of a disease associated with Lejeune contaminated water. They will also be able to file suit even if their military loved one did not die as a direct result of such exposure but instead suffered lifelong harmful effects due to it.


12. How likely is it that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 will become law?


The chances are reasonably good. The original bill was bipartisan, drafted on September 24, 2020, by five House Democrats and four Republicans to establish a cause of action for military personnel and families who were allegedly harmed by exposure to tainted Camp Lejeune water.


The Act reads, “To provide for recovery by individuals who were stationed, lived, or worked at Camp Lejeune, for certain actions of omissions by the United States.” It has been passed by the House. It will proceed to the Senate for approval. And if approved there, it will be up to the President to sign it into law.


13. Why should I hire a Camp Lejeune attorney?


In short, to be ready. If and when it becomes law, there will be significant litigation over who qualifies for tort compensation under the provisions of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, as well as about the extent of damages to which they are entitled.


Remember that tort law is adversarial by nature, and the government officials from whom military personnel and families will be seeking compensation will be incented to try to limit claims and the extent of compensation for each.


One should not try to go it alone. An experienced tort attorney can help affected military personnel and families understand their rights and win fair and complete compensation for their suffering.


14. What does it cost to hire a Camp Lejeune attorney?


Galindo Law does not charge any upfront or out-of-pocket fees. We are only paid a percentage of the settlement we are able to secure. So, working with Galindo Law incurs zero financial risk for military personnel and families who have been affected by Camp Lejeune contaminated water.



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