In the 1950s, the water at Camp Lejeune became dangerously contaminated by chemical solvents used in dry cleaning procedures. Over the course of three decades, these chemicals, known as trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene or PCE), poisoned two separate water treatment facilities around the Marine Corps base. That is why anybody stationed at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953 through December 31, 1987 can receive benefits for qualifying diseases resulting from the contamination. But what about after December 31, 1987? Were the chemicals completely removed from the base after that date, rendering the drinking water safe?
Water testing in 1982 first revealed the high concentration of TCE and PCE in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. They launched an investigation to determine the scope of the problem and narrowed the source of the chemicals to two of the eight water treatment plants on the base. In 1985, the government shut down those two treatment plants, effectively cutting off the source of the contamination in the drinking water. However, it wasn’t until the end of 1987 that the water became completely safe.
According to the federal government, water at Camp Lejeune became safe to drink in 1987. In fact, the discovery of these particular chemicals at the base resulted in more stringent testing of drinking water by the EPA. That means that the tests performed at Camp Lejeune since the discovery of the contamination should be more effective than any test prior. The water at the base has been checked quarterly and found to be free of dangerous chemicals in any significant concentration since March 1987.
While the water at Camp Lejeune may now be safe to drink, many Marines and their families who were stationed at the base continue to feel the effects of three decades of poison. Ingestion of TCE and PCE have been linked to the development of serious conditions which threaten the lives of those who came into prolonged contact.
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