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Our Vets Deserve Better-Gulf War Syndrome and the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Debacle

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Anyone who has served in the military knows their service comes with inherent risks.  However, those risks shouldn’t include avoidable or treatable conditions for which the United States could have either prevented or properly investigated and treated.

Gulf War Syndrome is just such a case.  The bombing of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapon arsenal could be to blame for tens of thousands of British and US soldiers being struck down with the mysterious Gulf War syndrome, scientists say.

Puzzled researchers have spent decades searching for the root cause of the illness, which has left veterans battling fatigue, memory problems and chronic pain.

Now, a US Government-funded study claims to offer the ‘most definitive’ proof that the destruction of Iraq‘s cache of chemical weapons is responsible.

According to the study, the main culprit is sarin gas, a lethal nerve agent.  Dr Robert Haley, who has been investigating the syndrome for nearly three decades, said the quantities were enough to make people ill.He said: ‘There are still more than 100,000 Gulf War veterans who are not getting help for this illness. ‘Our hope is that these findings will accelerate the search for better treatment.’

The same can be said about the Camp Lejeune water contamination tragedy. 

Water from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant was primarily contaminated by PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene). The source of the contamination was the waste disposal practices at ABC One-Hour Cleaners, an off-base dry cleaning firm. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) used a data analysis and modeling approach to reconstruct historical contaminant concentrations. Using these approaches, ATSDR estimated that PCE concentrations exceeded the current EPA maximum contaminant level of 5 ppb in drinking water from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant for 346 months during November 1957-February 1987. The most contaminated wells were shut down in February 1985.

Water from the Hadnot Point water treatment plant was contaminated primarily by TCE (trichloroethylene). Other contaminants in the drinking water included PCE and benzene and TCE degradation products trans-1,2-DCE (t-1,2-dichloroethylene) and vinyl chloride. Supply wells were contaminated by multiple sources: leaking underground storage tanks, industrial area spills, and waste disposal sites. ATSDR modeled the contamination and estimated that at least one VOC exceeded its current EPA maximum contaminant level in drinking water during August 1953 and January 1985.

For three decades, the water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated and unknown numbers of service members and their families have been adversely affected by this contamination.  This was preventable and the fact that the US government is only now considering addressing the injustice is outrageous. 

If you or a loved one has been adversely affected by the Camp Lejeune contamination, contact us for a free evaluation.  We are proud and ready to stand with our patriotic veterans.

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