After passing the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, the federal government has opened the possibility for service members and their families to file Camp Lejeune contaminated water lawsuits as a result of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The Act has been around for decades, and while this is a welcome development, it has a long history behind it. It has been a long time since service members and their families have been able to secure any meaningful compensation regarding their disability. There is no doubt that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 will positively transform that; however, it is imperative that any person suffering from a health condition related to Camp Lejeune understands the Act and why the government passed it.
Those who served at Camp Lejeune or lived there and then developed cancer may be entitled to financial compensation in light of recent legal developments.
Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Lawsuit Timeline
Camp Lejeune is a North Carolina military installation constructed in 1941, in Onslow County, in the state’s southeastern region. In the following year, the construction of the base was completed, and the base was ready for use.
1952: Tarawa Terrace Water Treatment Plant Becomes Operational
One of two major water treatment facilities on Camp Lejeune which handled the distribution of contaminated water was the Tarawa Terrace water treatment facility, which was built to provide clean water to the residents of Tarawa Terrace, a part of the Camp Lejeune complex. The Tarawa Terrace water treatment facility was expected to have the potential to become dangerously contaminated within a few years of its opening.
1953: Contamination Begins In Hadnot Point Water System
During the planning stages of Camp Lejeune, Hadnot Point was also included in the plan of the original design of the complex. Around the same time, the government constructed the Hadnot Point water treatment facility to accommodate residents. By the end of August 1953, the Hadnot Point water system had already been affected by toxic chemicals in the water distributed through it.
Additionally, the year 1953 is also important in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 since it is this year that marks the beginning of the eligibility period under the law. Anyone who has lived or worked at the base since August 1, 1953, or has been stationed there since that date, may be eligible for compensation.
1957: The Water Distributed Through the Tarawa Terrace Water System Starts to Become Contaminated
It was not until a few years later that the water at the Tarawa Terrace treatment facility began to become contaminated, even though the Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace water treatment facilities were constructed around the same time. A data analysis conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry estimates that, by November 1957, more than half of the water processed through Tarawa Terrace’s treatment and distribution system was contaminated.
1972: Holcomb Boulevard Water System Commences Operations
During the year 1972, a new water system was introduced to the area known as the Holcomb Boulevard water system, which served Paradise Point, Midway Park, and Berkeley Manor neighborhoods, among others. Before this, these areas were served by the Hadnot Point water system, which provided water to them. The Holcomb Boulevard system’s water was generally considered safe for consumption. Due to the base’s infrastructure, it was necessary to supplement the Holcomb Boulevard water with contaminated Hadnot Point water. The people who lived in these areas may still have been exposed to toxic chemicals due to their exposure to these substances.
1980-1982: Water Testing Reveals Contamination at Camp Lejeune
There were tests conducted in 1980 and 1981 to check the water quality at Camp Lejeune for certain chemicals in the water, as required by the Environmental Protection Agency. It was found, however, that “other chemicals interfered with test results.”
In 1982, an investigation by the Marine Corps identified trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene or PCE) levels exceeding the EPA’s standards for safe drinking water. On the base, in 1982, two of the eight water treatment facilities – Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant and Hadnot Point water treatment plant – were found to have these chemicals in their water supply.
During this time, the federal government knew that the water supply at Camp Lejeune, through the Marine Corps, was contaminated to a certain degree. However, the extent of the contamination was unknown to the government. After determining which sites were contaminated, the next step was to determine where the contamination occurred. It was the Navy’s responsibility from 1982 to 1984 to identify potential contamination sites and to conduct water testing at nearby drinking water wells to determine if there were any contaminants.
1985-1987: The Federal Government Shuts Down Contaminated Water Plants
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the federal government shut down the “most contaminated” wells on Camp Lejeune by 1985 after identifying the dangers. However, it wasn’t until the end of 1987 that all contaminants were removed from the water due to the time-consuming and inefficient process, so it wasn’t until 1988 that the water became completely safe for drinking.
As we can see, December 31, 1987, is another important date in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 since this date marks the end of the eligibility period. It is, therefore, possible to file a claim if you lived, worked, or were stationed at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987, or if you were involved in any of those circumstances.
1987-1989: Standards for Additional Volatile Organic Compounds Are Added to the Standards Established Under The Safe Drinking Water Act
In 1972, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Act did not include standards for how much TCE, vinyl chloride, and benzene should be present in Camp Lejeune, all of which were among the chemicals detected in the contaminated water then. Regulations regarding these hazardous Camp Lejeune chemicals were not published in the Federal Register until 1987, a few years after the chemicals began contaminating the area.
1999: The Marine Corps Begins Notifying Former Camp Lejeune Residents of the Health Risks They Faced
Seventeen years after Camp Lejeune’s water was first discovered to be contaminated by toxic chemicals, the Marine Corps began notifying former residents of Camp Lejeune and service members stationed about the exposure. Despite years of waiting, the government has yet to come up with a legitimate reason for this delay, which adds to the frustration of families whose lives were affected by this tragedy.
2009: The Wife of a Former Marine Files the First Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Lawsuit
The first Camp Lejeune cancer lawsuit against United States government over Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water was filed by Laura Jones, the wife of a former Marine. From 1980 to 1983, Jones lived at Camp Lejeune with her husband. In Camp Lejeune, contaminated water treatment plants supply drinking water to their house.
The Camp Lejeune drinking water lawsuit Jones filed claimed that she had been exposed to dangerous chemicals such as TCE, PCE, DCE, vinyl chloride, and benzene through the water supply. The plaintiff alleged that this exposure led to her being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).
2012: President Obama Signs the Camp Lejeune Families Act Of 2012 into Law
In 2012, President Obama signed into law the “Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012” as an act honoring American veterans. Under this new law, active duty service members of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs can begin to receive health benefits if they meet certain eligibility requirements, such as serving at Camp Lejeune. One of the Act’s provisions also allows eligible family members of those serving at Camp Lejeune to be reimbursed for qualifying health care costs associated with their qualifying conditions.
2017: Veterans Begin to File for VA Benefits Claims Due to Exposure to Contaminated Water
Service members stationed at Camp Lejeune are presumed to have service connection when filing for compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced in January 2017. An estimated $2.2 billion fund was established to cover the VA’s compensation claims over the next five years, and the VA began accepting compensation claims. Many veterans who appeared eligible for compensation were denied compensation because of legal hurdles.
2021: Lawmakers Take a Renewed Interest in Permitting service members’ Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Claims
During the 2021 session of Congress, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was introduced for consideration. If this law is passed, it will close many loopholes preventing many Camp Lejeune service members and their families from receiving financial compensation from the military. Even so, there are still certain requirements that one must meet to qualify for the program. A claim can be made for service members stationed on a base for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, to qualify for benefits. Additionally, each service member who brings a case must demonstrate that their health condition is causally related to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to prove that the contamination caused their health condition.
2022: The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 Passes the US House of Representatives and US Senate
Congress passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 in March 2022, after being presented on January 25, 2022. The bill was passed by the US Senate, 84-14. As a next step, President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on August 11, 2022.
Because of the time passed and the strict eligibility requirements, many service members may have trouble proving eligibility if the Camp Lejeune Justice Act becomes law in 2022. Having a toxic tort attorney on your side can be invaluable in understanding your rights and pursuing compensation if toxic materials have injured you. They can also help you find the answer to the question of how to file a claim for Camp Lejeune water contamination.
To learn more about the disability and associated cash compensation for the affectees of Camp Lejuene water contamination, please visit Gov-Relations.com today!