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Taking Care of Veterans of Camp Lejeune

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Anyone worth his salt recognizes we are our brother’s and sister’s keepers in the sense that we must take care of our brothers and sisters, especially those who sacrificed their lives for us in military service.  This is a duty that every one of us has as a citizen of this country.  For those who’ve been affected by the contaminated water supply at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, we as a nation have a sacred duty to assist them regardless of the cost. 

U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina was established in 1942. In 1982, the Marine Corps discovered specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the drinking water provided by two of the eight water treatment plants on base. The main contaminant was trichloroethylene (TCE).  In May 1982, this contaminant was found in the drinking water at a dangerous and toxic level ( 1,400 parts per billion).  The current limit for TCE in drinking water is 5 ppb. At least one VOC exceeded its current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maximum contaminant level in drinking water during August 1953 and January 1985

Other contaminants detected included PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene), DCE (trans-1,2-dichloroethylene), vinyl chloride, and benzene.  In addition to these contaminants, multiple sources of contamination were discovered- leaking underground storage tanks and waste disposal sites.  The most contaminated wells were shut down by February 1985.  (The contamination at that point had been going on for more than three decades!)

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), here is the history of those sites:

Tarawa Terrace (TT)

  • Began operation in 1952
  • Shut down in March 1987

 Areas served:

  •  Tarawa Terrace family housing
  •         Knox trailer park

    PCE was the main contaminant

        Maximum PCE level detected in drinking water was 215 ppb in February 1985

        The current limit for PCE in drinking water is 5 ppb

Source of contamination was ABC One-Hour Cleaners, an off-base dry cleaning firm. The most contaminated wells were shut down in February 1985.  ATSDR used water modeling to estimate past exposure levels

PCE concentrations exceeded the current EPA maximum contaminant level of 5 ppb in drinking water for 346 months during November 1957-February 1987

Holcomb Boulevard (HB)

    Began operation in June 1972

    Areas served:

Family housing at Midway Park, Paradise Point, Berkeley Manor, and Watkins Village. Tarawa Terrace family housing after March 1987

    HB wells were generally not contaminated

More than three decades of water supply contamination!  How many veterans and their families were exposed to this contamination?  How many suffered needlessly?  This is an issue of the utmost concern and importance to us.  Our law firm is ready and committed to fight this horrible injustice and stand with our veterans and their families.

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