History of Water Contamination at North Carolina’s Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
The Federal Government and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has extensively researched the causes and effects of toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune. In one of those studies, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s has indicated that past exposures from 1953 through 1987 to tetrachloroethylene (PCE) in the drinking water at the Camp Lejeune can cause bladder cancer.
Hadnot Point (HP) began operations in 1942 and served the main side barracks, Hospital Point family housing, and family housing at Midway Park, Paradise Point, and Berkeley Manor until 1972. The water supply from Hadnot Point was contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) with maximum levels of 1,400 parts per billion (pub) detected in the drinking water. The current maximum contaminant level for TCE in drinking water is 5 ppb. Other contaminants detected in the Hadnot Point water supply included the dangerous chemicals PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene), DCE (trans-1,2-dichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, and benzene. The sources of the contamination included leaking underground storage tanks, a water treatment plant, a water treatment facility, waste disposal sites and waste disposal practices.
The Tarawa Terrace water supply, which served Tarawa Terrace family base housing and the Knox trailer park, was contaminated with tetrachloroethylene (PCE) with maximum levels of 215 ppb detected in February 1985.
In 2022, an estimated 81,180 adults (61,700 men and 19,480 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with bladder cancer. Smoking accounts for 47% of all these cases. Worldwide, an estimated 573,278 people were received a bladder cancer diagnosis in 2020.
Bladder cancer occurs mainly in older people. About 9 out of 10 people with this cancer are over the age of 55. The average age of people when they are diagnosed is 73. Overall, the chance men will develop this cancer during their life is about 1 in 27. For women, the chance is about 1 in 89. About half of all bladder cancers are first found while the cancer is still found only in the inner layer of the bladder wall. These are non-invasive or in situ cancers.
About 1 in 3 bladder cancers have spread into deeper layers but are still only in the bladder. In most of the remaining cases, the cancer has spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes outside the bladder. Rarely, in about 4% of cases, it has spread to distant parts of the body. Black patients are slightly more likely to have more advanced disease when they’re diagnosed, compared to whites.
Identifiable risk facts for bladder cancer include tobacco use, age, gender, race, chemicals, previous radiation therapy to the pelvis, chronic bladder problems, cyclophosphamide use, pioglitazone use, personal history, schistosomiasis, lynch syndrome or other genetic syndromes, and arsenic exposure.
Symptoms of bladder cancer can include:
- Blood or blood clots in the urine
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Frequent urination
- Feeling the need to urinate many times throughout the night
- Feeling the need to urinate, but not being able to pass urine
- Lower back pain on 1 side of the body
What Camp Lejeune Bladder Cancer Settlement Amounts Can You Expect?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 was passed as part of larger bill called the Honoring Our PACT Act which, among its provisions, the bill will help veterans exposed to toxic burn pits used in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, used to incinerate environmental hazards and other refuse. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Honoring Our PACT Act – the most comprehensive ever passed for military veterans – will cost almost $300 billion over the next decade.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Camp Lejeune claims has projected $6 billion to settle these cases. However, the CBO is ill equipped to accurately measure the potential liability for the contaminated water supply and value of claims in these cases. With over 900,000 individuals exposed to the toxic water contamination, it is difficult to even estimate the total number of Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits that will be filed let alone the value of each water contamination claim for compensation. Additionally, it is unknown how many wrongful death claims will be filed as a result of deaths from bladder cancer caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Similar bladder cancer lawsuits have resulted in a wide-range of jury verdicts and lawsuit settlements:
- 2018: $9.5 Million settlement for its client and his wife in a lawsuit alleging that the client developed cancer as a result of his historic and chronic exposure to benzene, solvents and toxic chemicals in the workplace. The plaintiff worked in a plant where his job duties required him to use various solvents to clean up paints and coatings. The solvents were extremely hazardous and contained known carcinogenic components.
- 2015: Takeda Pharmaceutical agreed to pay to settle claims alleging that it’s diabetes medication Actos caused bladder cancer in patients. The average amount of damages paid out to each individual plaintiff would be nearly $300,000 per case.