Drinking Water Contamination and Camp Lejeune

While the US Marine Corps publicly stated that it closed its drinking wells once it discovered the wells were contaminated with toxic chemicals, its internal documents show otherwise. Now, Marines and other residents of the famous Marine base are discovering that they’ve contracted cancer. 146,000 people have signed up to a Marine health registry designed to locate and document those who’ve fallen ill after living at Camp Lejeune. It’s estimated that between 400,000 and 1 million people may have been exposed to the toxic drinking water during a 30 year period from 1957 to 1987.
While Marine officials began receiving warnings from chemists about the toxic water in 1980, nothing was done about the problem for 4 years. Environmental regulators received reports from the Marine base but any mention of the toxic water problem was not included in those reports. Perhaps, more disturbing, Marine officials failed to notify regulators of a chemical spill that was leaking fuel at a rate of 1,500 gallons per month. The fuel and other toxic chemicals seeped into the groundwater and contaminated the camp’s drinking water.
The environmental problem at the camp was so bad that the location was designated as a Superfund site in 1989. Thousands of state and federal documents concerning the problem reveal a multiplicity of sources of contamination including the dumping of oil, industrial waste water, as well industrial waste from a nearby dry cleaning business.
Besides the document issue, Marine officials at the camp have continued to deny any responsibility for the contaminated drinking water in spite of clear federal regulations to the contrary.
Now, some of those who lived at the base are fighting back. One former Marine from Wisconsin who lived at Camp Lejeune received a 30% disability from the Marine Corps due to illnesses contracted because of the toxic water contamination. It seems certain that more will follow suit as news of the groundwater contamination at Camp Lejeune is publicized and the former residents respond.