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President Biden has signed into the law the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 (the “PACT Act”) in order to aid Marines and others who were on the base for those 34 years and developed a later injury due to consumption of contaminated water.
“We hope that the passage of this legislation finally brings justice to veterans and others exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune decades ago,” says Robin L. Greenwald. Ms. Greenwald is a W&L partner and co-chair of our Environmental, Toxic Torts, and Consumer Protection Litigation group.
“If you were injured while stationed at Camp Lejeune and serving our country, we believe you and your family deserve compensation for your pain and suffering. And we will do everything possible to help you,” Ms. Greenwald emphasizes.
The PACT Act makes it possible for you to sue the U.S. federal government for compensation. The window of time for doing this is short, so consult with an attorney as soon as possible. We anticipate that claims under the PACT Act encompass those working or stationed in the broader Camp Lejeune facility, rather than merely those living in the areas supplied by the two impacted well fields.
In 1982, scientists confirmed that two water supply systems for the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina were contaminated with several toxic chemicals. (1)
These water supply systems provided water to unmarried service personnel and families of enlisted Marines. They also supplied water for administrative based offices, schools, and recreational areas. In addition, the Hadnot Point water system furnished water for the base’s hospital, an industrial area, and housing on Holcomb Boulevard’s water system. (2)
The routine testing conducted at the water treatment plants and supply wells identified several toxic contaminants, the most concerning of which were TCE (trichloroethylene), PCE (also called tetrachloroethylene), vinyl chloride (VC) and benzene. (3)
TCE is a common solvent used as a degreasing agent to clean metal parts during manufacturing. PCE is used in dry cleaning processes and can also be used as a metal degreaser. In groundwater, both TCE and PCE can degrade to become vinyl chloride. And benzene is a chemical used to make other chemicals. Both vinyl chloride and benzene can be used to make resins, plastics, nylon, and synthetic fibers. (4)
The contamination at Camp Lejeune entered the water systems through the groundwater and was found to be from several different sources. The supply wells in both systems then fed this groundwater to the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point treatment plants. Subsequent modeling studies were able to determine how these contaminants spread, and where they came from.
PCE is the primary contaminant in the Tarawa Terrace system. Research indicates that ABC One-Hour Cleaners, starting around 1953, caused the PCE contamination through spills and improper disposal methods. One-Hour’s actions over a period of years resulted in the significant contamination of the underlying groundwater. Testing in 1985 found PCE levels at 215 parts per billion (ppb), while the current maximum contamination level (MCL) for PCE is 5 ppb. Tarawa Terrace supplied water to family housing in Tarawa Terrace and the Knox Trailer Park. (5)
Water from Hadnot Point was found to be heavily contaminated with TCE. The Navy believes that multiple sources, including leaking underground storage tanks, are responsible for this contamination. May 1982 testing found TCE levels at 1,400 ppb, while the current standard for TCE is 5 ppb. Hadnot Point supplied water to the Mainside barracks, Hospital Point family housing, and family housing at Midway Park, Paradise Point and Berkeley Manor until 1972. The Navy also found other contaminants in the water. (6)
Investigation also confirmed the presence of contaminants in the Holcomb Boulevard water system. Along with the identified housing areas, these water systems also provided water to both administrative and recreational facilities in the immediate area. (7)
By the time the contamination was discovered, these treatment plants had both been operating for decades, having opened in 1952 and 1943, respectively. And they have both since been closed. (8)
If you or a loved one have been exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, contact us today for a free case evaluation.Get a Free Case Review
Chemical-contaminated water can lead to many life-threatening cancers and diseases.
Some conditions that may be linked to Camp Lejeune contaminated water include: (9)
These listed diseases and ailments are the health conditions that the Veterans Administration has previously identified as qualifying conditions in connection with the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, along with conditions identified by the government as having a causal relationship with the chemicals present at Camp Lejeune.
The PACT Act makes it possible for you to take legal action and pursue compensation for being exposed to contaminated water. (10)
This new law means that you can sue for pain and suffering, as well as your related medical costs. You may now be eligible for compensation even if you were previously denied disability or benefits by the Veterans Administration. This new law allows W&L to take Camp Lejeune contaminated water cases and may give you the opportunity to file for compensation.
The law states an individual, a veteran, or a legal representative who had “resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that was supplied by, or on behalf of, the United States” to “bring an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to obtain appropriate relief for harm that was caused by exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.” (11)
The PACT Act identifies a two-step process to assert a claim. Claimants must first submit an administrative claim to the Department of the Navy, using a standard government form. That form requires the identification of the injury or injuries connected with claimant’s exposure to the chemical contaminants at Camp Lejeune, as well as injuries that may be secondary or attributed to the initial injury. For example, if someone developed cancer due to exposure and then suffered a form of cardiac impairment or injury from chemotherapy treatment, then, we believe, both issues are connected with the exposure to contaminated water and should be identified.
If you or a loved one fell victim to cancer or another disease due to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, contact us today to understand your legal rights.Get a Free Case Review
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