Camp Lejeune Justice Act Opens the Door to Contaminated Water Claims
Camp Jejeune is a famous military base in North Carolina used by the Marine Corps and their families for decades. In recent years, the base’s dark secret has come to light. Millions of Marines who put their lives on the line overseas were also facing a silent threat to their health from contaminated water on the base. Their families and civilians on the base also paid a high price.
Toxic compounds that infiltrated the base’s water supply caused illnesses and deaths to base residents for three decades from the mid- 950s to the mid-1980s.
This month, President Joe Biden opened the door to lawsuits when he signed a bill to assist veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service, Roll Call reported.
Background on Camp Lejeune
While veterans whose health was permanently damaged by exposure to “burn pits” in Iraq and Afghanistan made headlines, Camp Lejeune veterans comprised a smaller contingent. These veterans have been fighting for recognition for years, following evidence that the water supply at the base was contaminated. Now the Camp Lejeune Justice Act provisions in the new law offer them hope.
Up to a million people passed through the base when drinking water was contaminated. Media reports stated water from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plan ended up contaminated by PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene) from an off-base dry cleaning firm from 1953 to 1985.
Roll Call reported thousands of victims at Camp Lejeune. Marine drill instructor Jerry Ensminger lost a daughter to leukemia in 1985. More than 4,500 former base residents filed injury claims or death claims for relatives that were all denied by the Secretary of the Navy in 2019.
Victims and advocates victims filed federal lawsuits and persuaded the late North Carolina Rep. Walter B. Jones, who represented the district that includes Camp Lejeune, to introduce the Camp Lejeune Justice Act before he died from Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2019.
The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act
The bill was incorporated into the PACT Act earlier this summer and passed the House in July with help from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act has been described as “historic” by the National Law Review. It’s a massive step forward for service personnel and their families who have been fighting for justice for decades.
Advocates for the victims say the contamination at Camp Lejeune was common knowledge for years but the authorities never acted. Meanwhile, the residents of the camp suffered from various types of cancer including bladder cancer, esophageal, and liver cancer as well as Parkinson’s Disease, birth defects, and a host of other deadly and debilitating conditions. People eligible to file claims include veterans, military family members who lived on the base, non-military staff, and even civilian contractors if they were at the base for at least a month and suffered exposure and illness.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows people who were exposed and suffered illnesses due to contaminated water for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987 to file a claim with the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit in Norfolk, Virginia.
Contact an Attorney for Camp Lejeune Claims
What happened at Camp Lejeune to the valiant Marines who served their country, their families, and others is a national scandal. We expect thousands of claims to be filed over the next few weeks. Please contact our Norfolk-based injury lawyers for help with filing a claim.