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Camp Lejeune Accident – Toxic Water Served for Decades

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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The Camp Lejeune base experienced an accident in the 1950s, and people who worked or lived there developed severe health conditions that still linger today.

Individuals exposed to toxic water through drinking or inhalation struggle with serious health problems like cancer or leukemia.

If you are one of the victims of this accident, you can reach out to our team of experts at Schmidt & Clark, who will help you file a compensation claim and get the justice you deserve.

Quick Summary

  • The Camp Lejeune water was polluted with various chemicals that turned out to be highly poisonous for residents.
  • Until the Camp Lejeune Families Act and the Camp Lejeune Justice Act were signed into law, there was no justice for Camp Lejeune water contamination victims.
  • Victims must provide evidence and show that they lived or worked at Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps base during the accident for at least 30 days to be eligible to file a compensation claim.

The History of the Camp Lejeune Water Hazard

Close up shot of a scientist inspecting a liquidThe Camp Lejeune water hazard dates back to the 1950s when the Camp Lejeune water wells were polluted with wastes and unwanted materials by the Marine Corps, making the water highly dangerous to residents.

For years, a dry cleaning business had also been dumping wastewater used in dry cleaning into the drains and water treatment plants. This wastewater contained harmful chemicals, such as tetrachloroethylene, benzene, and trichloroethylene.

For years, the Marine Corps denied knowledge that these toxic chemicals were harmful, but the Camp Lejeune residents claim they were well aware but continued disposing of them wrongly.

This event led to tighter environmental regulations from the environmental protection agency in the 1980s, which convinced scientists to begin running several tests on the Camp Lejeune water. 

After the tests, they discovered that the water was polluted and could cause serious health problems for residents exposed to it. This then led to a permanent closure of the water wells.

Decades passed, and in 2012, the topic was brought up, which led to President Obama passing the Camp Lejeune Families Act into law to enable victims to get compensated for their health conditions.

This law wasn’t very effective until President Biden passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act into law back in August to allow victims to file a claim against the government for damages, and ever since then, many victims have been filing several claims, with some receiving compensation.

Related Article: Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Lawsuit

Effects of the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

A doctor looking up the effects of the camp lejeune accidentThe effects of the Camp Lejeune water contamination are numerous, and you could be suffering from them even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. 

Some of these effects include visual impairment, tremors, loss of cognitive function, and behavioral abnormalities.

Also, research strongly suggests that benzene, one of the chemicals found in the Camp Lejeune water, can cause serious injuries to the central nervous system [1]. 

This could result in you experiencing headaches, tremors, dizziness, confusion, and unconsciousness. 

Burden of Proof

If you were exposed to Camp Lejeune contaminated water for decades, you could file a lawsuit to get compensated for your damages.

You will have to provide scientific and medical evidence, which will act as a burden of proof that you indeed are suffering from a condition caused by the polluted Camp Lejeune water.

This evidence includes the following:

Military Service Record

A military person doing the salute

Your military service record, otherwise known as your DD214, has to show that you served at the Camp Lejeune base when the water contamination incident occurred.

It also has to have the following key information:

  • Date and place of your enlistment
  • Duty stations and dates
  • Medals, decorations, and campaign awards
  • Qualifications, performance, and training
  • Administrative remarks
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Military education
  • Total creditable service
  • Last duty station and rank
  • Date of separation from the military
  • Type of separation (honorable or dishonorable)
  • Reason for separation

Housing Record

Your housing record has to show you and your family lived around the area of Camp Lejeune during the incident. 

Documents like bills or proof of school enrollment (if you have children) can be very beneficial too.

Medical Record

Your medical record has to stand as solid evidence that you contracted an illness due to your exposure to Camp Lejeune water.

It must include the detected symptoms of your illness, test and imaging results, a diagnosis, approved medications, treatments, and surgical procedures.

This information will help your lawyer prove that you are well within your rights to file a compensation claim and get the justice you deserve.

Chemicals Responsible for the Toxic Water

Research strongly suggests that various dangerous chemicals were responsible for the toxic water at Camp Lejeune. These chemicals include TCE, PCE, vinyl chloride, methylene chloride, benzene, toluene, 1,1-DCE, and 1,2-DCE [2].

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

A scientist looking at TrichloroethyleneTCE is a chemical substance used to eliminate metal marks from products during manufacturing. We usually find it in most consumer goods, and it has a subtle odor that can’t easily be detected, especially in the air.

This chemical is also non-flammable, easily evaporates, and can be used to produce other toxic substances as well.

Lastly, it is one of the primary substances discovered in the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)

PCE is a substance that is used by most dry cleaning businesses for dry cleaning. This chemical can also be used for wood processing and manufacturing clothing materials. 

It also has similar properties to TCE as it is non-flammable, has a pleasant odor, and easily evaporates too.

Studies have shown that this chemical, together with TCE, is the main contaminant in the Camp Lejeune water [3].

Vinyl Chloride

Vinyl chloride is a colorless gas or liquid used to manufacture other substances, especially in the plastic industry, to make polyvinyl chloride. 

Although a secondary contaminant, this chemical is among the chemicals behind the toxic drinking water at Camp Lejeune.

Methylene Chloride

This chemical is a colorless liquid used for various purposes, such as paint removal, metal cleaning, and drug manufacturing.

You can only get exposed to this substance by inhalation, which means there is a high chance this chemical might be responsible for your condition if you got exposed to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune through inhalation.


Benzene is a light yellow liquid with a sweet odor and is generally very flammable. Unlike other substances, benzene does not completely dissolve in water, which makes it very easy to identify.

Research strongly suggests that this chemical can cause respiratory and cerebral injury if you get exposed to it [4].


Close up shot of Toluene on a test tubeToluene is a clear liquid with a strong odor, and it was proved to be one of the chemicals responsible for Camp Lejeune water contamination.

You can get exposed to this chemical either by inhaling it or drinking a substance that contains it. 

Also, if this happens, you risk suffering from various conditions, such as liver damage, kidney damage, fatigue, and amnesia.

1,1-Dichloroethylene (1,1-DCE)

1,1-DCE is an artificially made substance used to make polythene bags and fire retardant fibers.

It also has a sharp smell and can easily contaminate water upon immediate contact.

1,2-Dichloroethylene (1,2-DCE)

1,2-DCE is one of the volatile organic compounds with a sharp smell, used to produce solvents and certain chemical mixtures.

It is also very flammable and less toxic than vinyl chloride. This substance is responsible for the Camp Lejeune toxic water, and you can get exposed to it through inhalation.

Health Conditions and Illnesses Caused by the Camp Lejeune Accident

A doctor checking up on a camp lejeune victim

Residents contracted several conditions and illnesses due to the Camp Lejeune incident.

Some of these health conditions and illnesses include:

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer affects the bladder by causing a tumor to grow around it, leading to blood in the urine, frequent urination, or other symptoms such as back pain.

Related Article: Camp Lejeune Bladder Cancer Lawsuit

Breast Cancer

This disease affects one or both breasts; in some cases, breast removal surgery would have to be done to eliminate the disease. 

Common symptoms of this cancer include breast pain, white fluid from the breast, swollen skin, or a lump on or around the breasts.

Related Article: Camp Lejeune Breast Cancer Lawsuit

Liver Cancer

This cancer affects the cells in the liver, and in most cases, it spreads from other areas within the body system to the liver rather than from it.

Vinyl chloride and TCE are two chemicals in the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune responsible for causing liver cancer in individuals exposed to them.

Related Article: Camp Lejeune Liver Cancer Lawsuit

Damage to Internal Organs

The Camp Lejeune accident can damage internal organs, causing renal toxicity, multiple myeloma, hepatic steatosis, scleroderma, and myelodysplastic syndromes.

These conditions can produce varying results within the internal organs, making them difficult to diagnose.


The Camp Lejeune accident can cause infertility, particularly in newly formed families, making it difficult for them to conceive children.

Prostate Cancer

The hazardous chemicals which led to the Camp Lejeune accident are the leading cause of prostate cancer in affected individuals. 

This cancer affects the prostate, and you may develop warning signs during the latter stages, such as infected semen, erectile dysfunction, and weight loss.

Related Article: Camp Lejeune Prostate Cancer Lawsuit

The Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Exposure and Duration

A doctor reading up on camp lejeune's accidentResidents at Camp Lejeune who got exposed to the toxic water did so either by inhalation or drinking.

This exposure led to serious health conditions for affected individuals who carried on for decades without seeking compensation for damages.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case, as you are eligible to file a claim and be compensated once you follow the proper procedures.

Potential Settlement Amounts for Victims With Prolonged Exposure to the Camp Lejeune Toxic Water

Victims who had prolonged exposure to Camp Lejeune-contaminated drinking water will most likely develop serious, life-threatening health conditions. This category is classified as Tier 1.

If these victims have tier 1 conditions such as breast cancer, liver cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and others, they will most likely be compensated around $300,000 to $1 million.

However, if the diseases are classified as Tier 2, including less serious conditions such as aplastic anemia, they will be compensated between $200,000 and $500,000.

“To win these cases, people are going to have to prove not just that they were there, but that they were hurt. More than one million people were exposed. But you have to show injury to win the case.”
Greg Rinckey, Founding Partner at Tully Rinckey

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Will the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 Become Law?

A lawyer looking at the Camp Lejeune Justice ActYes, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 has become law as President Biden signed it on August 10, 2022. 

This law caters to veterans and residents of Camp Lejeune who suffered from health problems because of their exposure to contaminated water.

They can now file compensation claims for damages alongside other health care benefits that will ensure they are well taken care of.

“It is appalling to know these Marines and their families were exposed to toxic chemicals while at Camp Lejeune. These men and women put their lives on the line for our country, and our government failed to provide them with even the most basic of needs: safe drinking water.”
Thomas J. Henry, Renowned Trial Attorney

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Have you or a loved one been injured or exposed to a toxic chemical at work or in the home that has caused a severe life-threatening side effect, illness, disease, or death?


Are There Long-Term Effects of Camp Lejeune Contamination?

The long-term effects of Camp Lejeune contamination include headaches, insomnia, emotional stress, lack of coordination, concentration problems, tremors, and involuntary movements, among others.

What Years Does the Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Cover?

The Camp Lejeune lawsuit covers the years from August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987. This means people who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days during this time are eligible for a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit, given the evidence provided.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

The statute of limitations for Camp Lejeune water contamination is two years from the date of the statute’s enactment, which is 2024.

Get Your Free Lawsuit Evaluation Today

Contact us today at Schmidt & Clark, LLP or by calling  (866) 588-0600 if you or your family members suffer from severe health conditions from exposure to the toxic Camp Lejeune water.

We offer free case evaluations and have a team of experienced Camp Lejeune lawyers ready to help you file that claim and get the justice you deserve.

Our professional legal representatives will be more than happy to provide legal advice and help you explore your options.

We understand what you are going through, so we want to ensure that you get a settlement amount that will cover your damages, medical expenses, and much more.



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