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What Took So Long For The Government To Act On Contaminated Camp Lejeune Water?


By now, it should be obvious that there are laws that will allow service members and employees who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, to recover for injuries, diseases, or illnesses that they may have incurred as a result of exposure to toxic water at the camp.

But how did it happen? And what was the process of discovering that the water was contaminated even like? The toxicity and contamination of the water at the camp was not known right away.

Early Signs of Problems

Despite the contamination having existed at the camp since the 1950s, it was not until 1980 that the government started doing any type of serious testing on the contaminants of the water at Camp Lejeune. Initially, they were looking for a chemical called trihalomethane, or THM. But scientists were unable to detect that the chemical was present at the time.

That means that the process of shutting down wells and other water sources around the Camp, was a longer process than it should have ever been.

In 1982, scientists detected the presence of chemicals that would have interfered with, or altered, the test results that were conducted in 1980 for the presence of THM. By 1984, it became apparent to the government that wells that served the camp had to be shut down. By late 1984, the presence of toxic chemicals, and well shutdowns, became public.

By 1985, all wells contaminated with chemicals had been shut down.

Denials by the Government

But in that time period, from 1980-1985, an untold number of servicemembers were subject to the contamination, when they didn’t ever need to be. And even since then, the government has denied that illnesses suffered by those at the camp are related to the contaminated water.

In fact, in 2010, a congressional committee looking into the case found that the Marines had spent years denying contamination. The committee noted that the Marines felt the contamination was more of a “public relations” problem, than one of public health. Records also show that the government became aware in 2009, that the chemical Benzene, was also in the water at Camp Lejeune.

Lack of Regulations

In the past, in order to defend themselves, the Marines have also noted that there were few government regulations that were related to cancer causing substances, so they had no guidance about how to handle contaminated water wells. But as early as 1974, generals at the camp noted that solvents were in the water and that these solvents, while not legally prohibited by existing regulations, were related to known health issues.

Of course, the government remains secretive about what it knew, what it did, and when it did it. Regardless, the new Camp Lejeune Justice Act is in place to help those sickened or poisoned by the water at the camp, get recovery for their injuries or damages.

Call the Tennessee Camp Lejeune Claims Act injury lawyers at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today for help if you have been sickened by the water at Camp Lejeune during time stationed or working at the camp.




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