As someone who has served in the armed forces, you’ve likely moved around a fair share before settling here in New Mexico. If you were stationed at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base for 30 or more days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and you or a family member has fallen ill since your residence there, this information may be good to know.
At least two of eight water treatment facilities in and around your former North Carolina base have been officially identified as contaminated recently. Since then, countless veterans and their family members have been diagnosed with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. You may be eligible to recover compensation for medical bills and other illness-related expenses you’ve incurred if you’ve faced the same fate.
The attorneys at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm have extensive experience representing clients who’ve suffered debilitating injuries or illnesses due to others’ negligence. If you’re a veteran or have a family member who’s been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness after residing on or near your North Carolina Marine base, then schedule a free consultation with a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer from our firm to find out your potential legal options.
Causes of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Issues
Two of the eight water treatment plants that service Camp Lejeune were contaminated. High trichloroethylene (TCE) levels were found at the Hadnot Point Treatment Plant. Abnormally high amounts of perchloroethylene (PCE) were discovered at the Tarawa Terrace Treatment Plant.
TCE, found at the Hadnot Point plant, is a clear halocarbon solvent believed to have been used at Camp Lejeune within industrial areas, such as wastewater disposal sites and underground storage tanks. Many environmental analysts believe these dangerous chemicals seeped into the water through spills, leaks, and inadequate greywater management.
PCE is a colorless chlorocarbon that has historically most often been used in the dry-cleaning industry for treating fabrics. Investigators have so far determined that the likely source of the PCE contamination was an off-base dry-cleaning company.
Data compiled by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) suggests that there was an above-average presence of PCE in the Tarawa Terrace Treatment Plant between 1957 and 1987.
Both TCE and PCE are now known carcinogens.
Dangers Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Poses
PCE and TCE are toxic substances, now known to cause significant harm to anyone who comes in close contact with them.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) previously described TCE as contributing to the emergence of cancer in the kidney, cervix, liver, and lymphatic system. Animal research shows that this harmful substance may also cause cancerous testicular growths and lymphoma.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has referred to PCE as a potential occupational carcinogen.
EPA research has attributed many individuals’ bladder cancers, multiple myelomas, and non-Hodgkin lymphomas to prior PCE exposure.
Cancer risks that individuals exposed to these toxic chemicals face greatly vary by how much they were exposed to these harmful substances and for how long. Studies show that even if someone didn’t develop cancer after exposure to these carcinogens, they may still face other health consequences such as respiratory system harm or liver damage.
Also, a 2013 ATSDR report detailed how reports of birth defects thought to have been caused by individuals drinking and bathing in Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water started to emerge in 2003.
Federal researchers determined that the incident rate of birth defects, such as spina bifida, was four times higher for babies born to mothers exposed to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water. Researchers also determined that kids’ leukemia rates were remarkably higher among this population.
Camp Lejeune Contamination Issues Continue
While environmentalists believe lingering PCE and TCE contamination issues at Camp Lejeune have now been eradicated, countless individuals were exposed to these harmful substances over the several decades that contamination went unaddressed. Individuals are only beginning to tie their illnesses to their residence in the area now.
TCE and PCE aren’t the only contaminants that veterans and their dependents have to worry about, though. There was a discovery of mercury in the water at Camp Lejeune’s Hadnot Point Water Treatment Plant as recently as 2012. Environmental analysts have attributed the contamination to the use of water pressure meters utilized at the plant up until the 1980s.
Mercury exposure can cause birth defects, lung and respiratory impairments, vision problems, and many other medical issues.
Are Former Camp Lejeune Service Members Eligible to File Water Contamination Lawsuits?
Service members and their dependents started filing lawsuits against the U.S. government, attributing their cancer diagnoses to potential Camp Lejeune drinking water contamination in 2005. North Carolina state and federal judges cited the Feres doctrine as the grounds for dismissing those lawsuits in 2016.
Tides have changed since then. There’s been a lot of legislative wrangling recently regarding Camp Lejeune water contamination and, more recently, the Honoring Our PACT Act. Legislative analysts believe elected officials are close to getting the Feres doctrine that required service members to file legal claims within two years of contamination exposure overturned.
How a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer Can Help
Our New Mexico legal system affords us certain rights when someone else’s negligence has left us with preventable injuries or illnesses. It allows us to file a civil lawsuit to recover compensation for any damages we’ve suffered due to someone else’s negligence.
There are certain standards you must meet to prove liability, and you must meet a certain statute of limitations in filing a lawsuit.
Unique requirements apply to Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit cases, including residency of 30 or more days between 1953 and 1987. Veterans’ and their dependents’ abilities to file lawsuits were once prohibited. However, those circumstances are currently in flux. Now may be your time to file.
How a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer Can Help You
Keeping abreast of changes in legislation regarding victims’ rights to file lawsuits in matters like these can be challenging. Building a case that adequately shows negligence occurred and attributes a medical outcome to that oversight can be even more difficult.
An experienced Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer like ours at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm will have the necessary insight to evaluate your case.
Reach out to us to schedule a free consultation today to apprise yourself of your legal rights under both New Mexico and federal law.