In the 1980s, the Marine Corps discovered that drinking water provided by some of Camp Lejeune’s water treatment plants were contaminated with dangerous chemicals called specific volatile organic compounds since the 1950s. For decades, service members and their families drank the water at Camp Lejeune that contained high levels of toxic chemicals, including:
A combination of on-base and off-base chemical spills and leaks caused the water contamination at these water treatment plants.
One significant source of water contamination was the waste disposal practices of ABC One-Hour Cleaners, an off-base dry-cleaning firm. This business dumped into drains wastewater with chemicals used in dry cleaning. The septic tank system on the property released the chemicals into soil and groundwater.
While the dry-cleaning site was responsible for some of the contamination at Camp Lejeune, it was not the only source. The National Research Council found that there were likely multiple sources of contamination, including leaks from underground storage tanks and spills at industrial sites. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry estimated that PCE concentrations exceeded the current EPA maximum contaminant levels in drinking water from these water treatment plants. The chemicals that infiltrated the water supply were not meant for human consumption and have been linked to various serious health conditions.
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