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Between 1953 and 1987, residents of Camp Lejeune were exposed to high levels of chemicals in the water they drank, cooked with, and bathed in. Toxin levels in Camp Lejeune’s water supply ranged from 240 times what safety standards allowed to 3,000 times what safety standards allowed.
The United States Marine Corps base in Camp Lejeune, North Caroline was established in 1942. From 1953 through 1987, people living or working at the Marine Corps Base were exposed to contaminated drinking water. It has been reported that at least 900,000 military personnel and their family members were stationed at Camp Lejeune during this time period.
In the early 1980s, military chemists began testing the Camp Lejeune water and discovered high levels of specific organic compounds in the drinking water provided by two of the eight water treatment plants on the base. The two water treatments plants containing the contaminated water were Hadnot Point and Terawa Terrace. Throughout this time period, various people unknowingly drank and bathed in these toxic chemicals.
The water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with the industrial solvents trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE). Among other Volatile Organic Compounds included Benzene, Vinyl Chloride, and Trans-1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE). PCE was the primary contaminant found in the drinking water and mainly came from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant.
The Environmental Protection Agency has classified PCE as a likely human carcinogen. A nearby dry-cleaning business was a primary source of the water contamination. For years, the dry-cleaning business dumped wastewater laden with chemicals used in dry cleaning into the drains. As a result of the spills and improper disposal practices, the groundwater became contaminated. Other contributing factors that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) found were on-base operations.
There were also sources of on-base contamination from the Hadnot Point water system. Many sources, including on-base spills at industrial sites, leaks from underground storage tanks, and drums at dumps and storage lots contributed to the TCE contamination. The Department of Health and Human services considers TCE to be a known human carcinogen. Records show that oil and industrial wastewater were dumped in storm drains and potentially radioactive materials were buried.
The Tarawa Terrace and the Hadnot Point water-supply systems operated similarly as they were both wells that collected groundwater and pumped it into a water-treatment plant. A few wells on both systems were contaminated and so when those wells were operating, they delivered the contaminated water to the treatment plant where it was then mixed with water from the other wells and processed before distributing it on the base.
The concentration of contamination varied throughout the years as wells were added and some wells were offline temporarily or were closed. The residential areas served by the two contaminated water supply systems were primarily for enlisted family housing and barracks for unmarried service personnel. This affected young families and people of reproductive age.
In addition, separate from disability compensation, veterans and their family members who lived at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period can receive certain VA health care benefits if they suffer from one of 15 illnesses linked to the base’s contaminated water.
Berry Law can help qualifying veterans to appeal or reopen their existing disability claims and seek other benefits related to Camp Lejeune water contamination. We work with veterans and their families nationwide. Contact us today to discuss your case.
As Veterans, we understand the hardships you and your loved ones have endured due to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Berry Law Camp Lejeune Task Force is here to answer any of your questions and keep you updated on your case. We are comprised of Marines, FMF Corpsmen, family of Marines, Veterans, and lawyers.
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If you believe that you qualify for Camp Lejeune water contamination-related VA benefits, you have the option of undergoing a medical examination. You can go to your own doctor or to a VA Medical Center. The examination will determine whether you suffer from a presumptive condition.
A separate law, The Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, provides health benefits to veterans and their family members.
As explained above, generally to obtain VA disability compensation, a veteran must show three things: (1) a current disability, (2) an in-service injury or illness, and (3) a link between the in-service injury or illness and the current disability.
Once service connection is proven for a disability that was the result of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, the amount of monthly, tax-free payments that a veteran receives will depend on their specific disability and how much that disability affects earning capacity.
Many of the attorneys of Berry Law are veterans who help veterans to pursue the VA disability benefits they earned through their service and sacrifice. We appeal wrongly decided claims on behalf of veterans nationwide before VA Regional Offices, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and higher courts.
Founder John S. Berry Sr. is a Vietnam veteran, while John S. Berry Jr. is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia. Many other members of our legal team are also veterans.
Founded in 1965, Berry Law has assisted thousands of veterans from across the country and obtained millions of dollars of compensation on their behalf.
The VA finally agreed that veterans exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River deserve disability compensation. However, the VA still denies many meritorious claims that don’t happen to qualify under the easier rules explained above. Or even if the VA does agree that a disability is due to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, it may not grant the full benefit amount that a veteran deserves.
At Berry Law, we help veterans to appeal denied claims. We have decades of experience fighting for the benefits that disabled veterans deserve for their service and sacrifice.
We can help you fight for the full benefits you deserve, including gathering relevant military records and medical records and developing expert legal arguments in support of your appeal.
If you served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River and suffer the effects of contaminated water, contact us about your case. We want you to receive the VA disability benefits you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your case.
PTSD VA Disability Lawyers are Ready to Help You
“I came to Berry Law, and they really helped me. I like helping other veterans, and Berry Law does such a damn good job. They know the system…’cause everything just has to be just so worded, so correct, till you throw it out… So, I owe a lot to Berry Law.”
– Larry Sabata, Army Veteran
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