Harmful Chemicals Contaminated the Water at Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

An official report by the CDC indicates families may have been drinking and bathing in toxic water for as many as 60 years.

As many as one million marines and their families were likely exposed to contaminated drinking water. Contamination started as early as 1953 and the contaminated wells were in operation until 1987.

To learn more about the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, click HERE for updates.

What Chemicals Were Found in the Water at Camp Lejeune?

Three of the eight water-distribution plants were contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Hadnot Point, Tarawa Terrace, and Holcomb Boulevard. The primary volatile compounds detected were:

  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • ​​Perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
  • Benzene
  • Vinyl chloride (VC)

These chemicals, in addition to other compounds, are all known to be cancer-causing and harmful to both humans and animals.

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Photo by: Lance Cpl. Drew W. Barker

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

TCE is used as a degreaser solvent for industrial machinery and used in paint removers and rug cleaners. TCE has been linked to a number of health issues; kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, cardiac effects, and more.

The Hadnot Point water distribution plant served the mainside military barracks and several family housing units, and the volatile compound, TCE (trichloroethylene) was the primary compound found. The maximum TCE level detected was 1,400 parts per billion; the current limit for TCE is 5 parts per billion. Additional contaminants included PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene), DCE (dichloroethylene), vinyl chloride, and benzene. Contamination originated from underground storage tanks and waste disposal sites.

Perchloroethylene (PCE)

Perchloroethylene, sometimes known as tetrachloroethylene, is used for dry cleaning and textile processing, as well as a machinery degreaser. PCE has been linked to a number of cancers, including bladder cancer, as well as congenital disabilities.

The main contaminant found at the Tarawa Terrace was the volatile compound, PCE. The Tarawa Terrace water distribution plant served family housing units and the Knox Trailer Park. The Maximum level detected was 215 parts per billion; the current PCE limit is 5 parts per billion. Contamination originated from an off-base dry cleaning firm.

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Benzene is a colorless or light-yellow chemical known to cause cancer in humans. The World Health Organization has classified benzene as a Category 1 Carcinogen, meaning strong evidence has tied benzene to DNA damage leading to cancer. Exposure to benzene increases the risk of leukemia and other blood disorders, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Benzene is a common industrial compound used to help make plastics, pesticides, detergents, and lubricants.

Vinyl Chlorides

Vinyl chloride is an odorless gas used in the production of plastics. According to the National Cancer Institute, if a water supply is contaminated, vinyl chloride can enter household air when the water is used for showering, cooking, or laundry.

Vinyl chloride is associated with an increased risk of a rare form of liver cancer known as hepatic angiosarcoma, as well as brain and lung cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia.

On Your Side – By Your Side

To learn more about filing a water contamination lawsuit, visit our Camp Lejeune page. You can also call the Taylor King law firm at 870.246.0505 or toll-free at 1.800.227.9732. Our team of attorneys is actively working on behalf of veterans. We’re committed to ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

You’ve served our country. Now let us serve you.

Allow our experienced team to be on your side – by your side. Call us today for a free case review.

On Your Side – By Your Side




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