What Caused Camp Lejeune Water Contamination? [New Guide 2022]

Overview Of What Caused Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Water contamination at Camp Lejeune lasted approximately from 1953 to 1987.

Former residents of the military base have been diagnosed with numerous medical conditions and experienced devastating adverse health effects as a result of their exposure.

But, what caused Camp Lejeune water contamination?

What Caused Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

Toxic substances, including synthetic organic cleaning solvents and chemicals used for manufacturing, were found to have leaked into water treatment plants, underground storage tanks, and other water supply systems that served Camp Lejeune.

Frequently Asked Questions

Upwards of 70 other chemicals were found to have contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune and the nearby Marine Corps Air Station New River.

Of those 70 chemicals, the main four (4) Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) found in the water serving Maring Corps Base Camp Lejeune include:

  • Tetrachloroethylene
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Vinyl Chloride
  • Benzene

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a classification of man-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds that have been linked to numerous health conditions.

Various VOCs were found in the drinking water supply at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit – August 2022 Update
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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit – August 2022 Update

Table of Contents

Which 4 Main Contaminants Were Found In the Drinking Water At Camp Lejeune?

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Water contamination at the military base was widespread and lasted for decades.

The agencies in charge of assessing potential health effects of the contaminated water have even said that "levels of chemicals were among the highest ever seen in a large, public water system."

Even though the Environmental Protection Agency proposed tighter environmental regulations on the handling of specific volatile organic compounds, the Marine Corps Base Camp largely did not impose such regulations while the contamination was ongoing.

Of the 70+ chemicals observed, the four (4) main chemical contaminants found in the Camp Lejeune drinking water were:

  1. Tetrachloroethylene (PCE Or PERC)
  2. Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  3. Vinyl Chloride
  4. Benzene

1. Tetrachloroethylene (PCE or PERC)

What Is Tetrachloroethylene?

Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene (PCE or PERC), is a colorless, non-flammable liquid that is not naturally occurring.

PCE was found in the environmental assessments of the Camp Lejeune water supply at levels 4300% higher than allowed by mandated safety standards.

Where Is Tetrachloroethylene Used?

Tetrachloroethylene is commonly used for:

  • Dry cleaning clothes and fabrics
  • Industrial purposes
  • Manufacturing of other chemicals

2. Trichloroethylene (TCE)

What is Trichloroethylene?

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a colorless, non-flammable liquid created through chemical synthesis.

TCE was found at levels 280 times the maximum contamination level (MCL) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Where is Trichloroethylene used?

Trichloroethylene is commonly used for:

  • Dry cleaning
  • Metal degreasing
  • Manufacturing of other chemicals such as refrigerants
  • Household cleaning supplies, aerosols, paint removers, and more

3. Vinyl Chloride

What is Vinyl Chloride?

Vinyl chloride is a colorless, flammable gas.

Vinyl chloride was found at levels up to 70 times the maximum contamination level (MCL).

Where is Vinyl Chloride used?

Vinyl chloride is namely used in the production of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which is present in the following:

  • Drainage pipes
  • Water service pipes
  • Wire coatings
  • Flooring
  • Vehicle upholstery
  • Plastic silverware
  • Countless other everyday items

4. Benzene

What is Benzene?

Benzene is an odorless, mostly colorless liquid organic chemical that can be formed both naturally and through manmade processes.

Where is benzene used?

Benzene is used as a base chemical for a number of products and other chemicals:

  • Crude oil
  • Plastics
  • Rubbers
  • Resins
  • Synthetic materials
  • Lubricants
  • Pesticides
  • Countless other products and chemicals

What Other Contaminants were Found in Camp Lejeune's Water?

Apart from the four main contaminants identified in the Camp Lejeune water supply, there are other chemicals, even potentially radioactive materials, that have been labeled by health and environmental experts as possible carcinogens.

These include Carbon Tetrachloride, Dichloroethane (DCE), and more than 70 other contaminants. 

Up to 70 other contaminants were found to have contaminated water supplies at Camp Lejeune.

What Health Conditions Have Been Linked To Each Chemical Found In The Contaminated Water At Camp Lejeune?

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There is considerable medical evidence from numerous agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Research Council, and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) that detail the depth of the issues at Camp Lejeune.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry completed one of the most in-depth reports on the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

Tetrachloroethylene (PCE or PERC)

Exposure to Tetrachloroethylene can lead to a number of devastating health impacts.

The health conditions linked to Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) exposure include, but are not limited to:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Renal Toxicity
  • Female Infertility
  • Other adverse health effects

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

The health risks associated with Trichloroethylene exposure are varying.

Health conditions related to Trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure include, but are not limited to:

  • Kidney Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Other cancers
  • Miscarriage and adverse birth outcomes
  • Neurobehavioral Effects
  • Renal Toxicity
  • Scleroderma 
  • Cardiac effects

Vinyl Chloride

Vinyl Chloride is extremely harmful if ingested in large amounts or over a long period of time.

Health conditions related to Vinyl Chloride exposure include, but are not limited to:

  • Liver Cancer
  • Hepatic Angiosarcoma (a rare liver cancer)
  • Breast Cancer
  • Brain Cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia


Long-term exposure to Benzene contamination has been found to be highly dangerous to human health.

Health conditions related to Benzene exposure include, but are not limited to:

  • Leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes
  • Birth defects
  • Anemia

Non-Presumptive Injuries at Camp Lejeune

There are also many non-presumptive injuries related to PCE and TCE exposure.

"Non-presumptive" means that though these injuries are common in former residents of Camp Lejeune, the VA has does not presume that the diagnosis is related to toxic exposure at the base.

These conditions include:

  • Cervical Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Neurological effects
  • Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Severe, generalized hypersensitivity skin disorder
  • Impaired Immune Function
  • Infant Injuries, such as:
    • Low birth weight
    • Fetal malformations
    • Oral cleft defects
    • Neural tube defects
    • Choanal atresia
    • Eye defects
    • Neurobehavioral performance deficits

Where Did the Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune Come From?

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Camp Lejeune and its surrounding communities have gotten their drinking water from at least eight water treatment plants in the area, and the ATSDR analyzed each one:

  • Tarawa Terrace
  • Hadnot Point
  • Holcomb Boulevard
  • Courthouse Bay
  • Rifle Range
  • Onslow Beach
  • Montford Point/Camp Johnson
  • New River

At least two water supply systems have been identified as potential sources for the water contamination:

  1. Hadnot Point Water System (and Holcomb Boulevard Water System)
  2. Tarawa Terrace Water Treatment Plant

Drinking water supplies at Camp Lejeune were contaminated from groundwater leakage originating from an off base dry cleaner, among other potential sources.

According to the St. Lawrence County Government, the Marine Corps admitted to dumping oil and industrial wastewater in storm drains at the base.

What Is The Camp Lejeune Justice Act Aiming To Do?

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The Camp Lejeune Justice Act affords Camp Lejeune residents the ability to sue and recover damages for exposure to the toxic substances in the water supply.

Camp Lejeune veterans and Camp Lejeune families will be able to secure compensation for health problems and medical expenses related to the toxic chemicals they were exposed to while living on the base.

Those eligible will file suit in the U.S. District Court: Eastern District of North Carolina.

The Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act

The Honoring Our PACT Act, which includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, will grant new Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and disability benefits to toxin-exposed veterans.

The PACT Act has been a long time coming for veterans across the country. It's estimated that the legislation will help up to 3.5 million veterans.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit

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With the Senate passage of the PACT Act, and the imminent signing of the bill into law by President Biden, Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuits are able to be filed by any person exposed to contaminated water at the Marine Corps base between 1953 and 1987.

If you or a loved one was exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune between these dates, and meet other certain criteria, you may qualify to file suit.

Contact TorHoerman Law for a free consultation or use the chatbot on our website to see if you qualify instantly.

We thank the brave veterans for their service to our country. Now let us serve you.

What Cancers And Diseases Are Caused By Exposure To Chemical Contaminants That Existed In Camp Lejeune's Drinking Water?

2 Drinking Water Treatment Plants → 4 Major Chemical Contaminants → 22 Correlated Health Conditions.

Click a treatment plant to see which chemical contaminants were found in the drinking water being distributed to Camp Lejeune.

Click a chemical contaminant to see which health conditions are associated with it, and how strong the correlation has been determined to be.


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Litigation Updates

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Update June 2022

June 16, 2022

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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Update June 2022

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