Helping Victims of Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
Unfortunately, many people fail to realize when they are drinking contaminated water; when they do realize it, it is often too late and they have a brain injury or some type of cancer. This happens to be the case for those who lived at Camp Lejeune in North California between 1953 and 1987.
It was found that, during this time, there were unsafe levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water. Leaking underground storage tanks, improper waste disposal practices, and industrial spills collectively contributed to this water contamination.
What’s worse is that VOCs are toxic chemicals that are known to increase the risk of certain diseases, specifically birth defects and cancers, and for the estimated 1,000,000 people living in Camp Lejeune at the time, some may have possibly developed brain cancer as a result.
Loved ones who have developed brain cancer due to drinking the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune may be entitled to financial compensation from responsible parties such as the federal government.
If this is the situation for a loved one, the compassionate brain injury lawyers at Ehline Law can help. These Los Angeles brain injury lawyers provide legal advice to their clients regarding the best course of action that will result in the best possible outcome. A traumatic brain injury lawyer at Ehline law can be contacted today at (213) 596-9642; victims can phone to schedule a free consultation.
Rest assured that any sensitive or confidential information that a victim shares with Ehline Law’s legal team will be kept private under a well-maintained attorney-client relationship.
The History of Camp Lejeune’s Water Contamination
Camp Lejeune is a military training facility located in Jacksonville, North Carlina, and occupies 156 acres of land. It is home to recreational areas, schools, barracks, base administrative services, as well as enlisted-family housing for civilian members, family members, and service members.
The Beginning of the Contamination
The start of the water contamination in Camp Lejeune happened in the 1950s, and records have shown that industrial wastewater and oil were disposed of by the Marine Corps in storm drains, a known standard practice at the time.
An off-base dry cleaning business was a significant source of water contaminants. This was because the business dumped wastewater that was used in dry cleaning into the drains, and this wastewater contained chemicals such as trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene.
In October 1980, military chemists began to test the camp’s water in earnest. Tests showed trace levels of organic compounds found in treated water. However, even with these findings, no action was taken to address the issue. Grainger Laboratories, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, was hired in 1982 to test the water at Camp Lejeune.
The Detection of Synthetic Organic Solvents
From two of Camp Lejeune’s largest residential areas, where thousands of family members and service workers lived, scientists discovered the presence of synthetic organic solvents in the water.
Water from the Hadnot Point Plant was primarily contaminated with TCE, and also PCE, vinyl chloride, benzene, as well as TCE degradation products, whereas the water from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plan was predominately contaminated with PCE.
Despite these alarming results, the Marine Corps continued to do nothing to fix this water problem, and it wasn’t until 1984 when chemists began to find high levels of gasoline present in the water, that the Marine Corps began to take action. In early 1984 and 1985, the most contaminated wells were closed down.
The Sad Reality
Unfortunately, by the time something was done about the water problem, it was already too late for the thousands of people that had been exposed to the toxic water and would develop health problems later on in their lives.
What Toxic Substances Were Found in Camp Lejeune’s Water?
In accordance with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Camp Lejeune’s water supply wells contained the following harmful substances:
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Vinyl chloride (VC)
What Health Problems Are Associated with the Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune?
As already mentioned, exposure to chlorinated substances and hazardous chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune increases a person’s risk of certain diseases, such as brain cancer.
Below are the health effects that have sufficient scientific evidence surrounding illness causation from the harmful chemicals that were found in Camp Lejeune’s water supply:
- Bladder cancer
- Cardiac defects
- Kidney cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Vinyl Chloride (VC)
- Liver cancer
These substances may also collectively increase the risk of other diseases; however, there is insufficient evidence that supports the link between exposure and condition. Examples of these conditions and diseases are:
- Brain cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- End-stage renal disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Birth defects
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is described as any injury to the brain that has resulted from trauma. Overall, a trauma injury is classified as a physical injury that onset suddenly, and its severity would likely require immediate medical attention. Traumatic brain injuries often result from a jolt, blow, or collision to the body or head that impacts the brain, and these traumatic brain injuries differ from acquired brain injuries (ABI) or non-traumatic brain injuries.
Acquired brain injuries, on the other hand, result from either a pre-existing condition or an illness within the body, such as:
- Oxygen deprivation to the brain
- Brain infection or inflammation
- Brain cancer
What Is Brain Cancer?
Brain cancer is the overgrowth of cells in the brain that has developed into masses known as tumors. Not all brain tumors are cancerous, but if they are, they grow rapidly. Cancerous brain tumors are malignant, and they disrupt the body’s natural processes.
Symptoms of Brain Cancer
Often, there is considerable overlap between the symptoms of an acquired brain injury and a traumatic brain injury. Symptoms and signs of brain cancer don’t usually manifest in the beginning stages of cancer. More so, brain cancer may also share very similar symptoms with less serious health problems.
Those who have been experiencing the following physical and cognitive symptoms that have either come on suddenly or have been experienced for more than a week should visit a doctor immediately, especially if there is a family history of brain cancer:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Vision and speech problems
- Coordination and balance problems
- Memory loss or lapses
- Abnormal eye movement
- Muscles twitching or jerking
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Numbness or tingling in the legs or arms
- Personality disorders or changes
- Unexplained loss of consciousness
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, or blurred vision.
Brain Cancer and Exposure to Vinyl Chloride
One of the former residents of Camp Lejeune’s many health concerns is developing cancer, and scientific evidence has shown that the hazardous substances in the water are also associated with an increased risk for several other cancers.
However, brain cancer is not included in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) list of covered conditions related to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water exposure. Part of the reason for this may be because of the insufficient evidence that exists for non-traumatic brain injuries caused by the chemicals present in the water supply at Camp Lejeune.
Nevertheless, medical organizations still link the increased risk of brain cancer with long-term exposure to vinyl chloride, even though there is no conclusive evidence to solidify the connection.
How Can Compensation Be Recovered from Brain Injury Claims for Victims Affected by Camp Lejeune’s Contamination? | Los Angeles Brain Injury Lawyer
Brain injury victims who have developed brain cancer or any other health concerns due to their exposure to the tainted water at Camp Lejeune may be entitled to recover financial compensation by filing brain injury claims with Los Angeles injury lawyers.
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides disability compensation to those veterans who were either injured in service or dealing with an illness due to their military service. A veteran will usually need to prove the connection of their service to their current disabilities or illnesses using the following:
- Current medical diagnoses from respected medical experts
- The in-service event that led to the disability, and
- A link between the current diagnosis and the in-service event
Reservists, active-duty personnel, and national guards who have been affected by the toxic water must meet the following requirements to obtain disability benefits:
- Documentation proving that they lived at Camp Lejeune for 30 cumulative days
- Medical records of their condition
In addition to the previous requirements, the family members of a veteran are also required to submit the following:
- A document proving legal dependence on a veteran who served at Camp Lejeune, and
- Evidence of medical bills
Filing a Claim for Brain Cancer
As already discovered, brain cancer is not included in the VAs list of presumptive and covered conditions. Therefore, it can be extremely difficult for victims of this brain injury diagnosis to prove that the toxic water at Camp Lejeune caused their brain cancer.
However, if a brain injury victim has a skilled brain injury lawyer by their side, they can help them to prove the connection between their exposure to toxic water and brain cancer, but only if:
- The victims have no family history of brain cancer
- Their overall risk of brain cancer is low, and
- They have no other occupational or environmental exposure to carcinogens
Often, an application for VA disability coverage for brain cancer is denied due to the fact that it is not covered. If this happens, an experienced attorney at Ehline Law will help victims of traumatic brain injuries to file an appeal. As an alternative, these brain injury lawyers at Ehline Law may also assist their brain injury clients in seeking compensation through other means.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered for Victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries?
Those who have developed brain cancer or other health concerns due to their exposure to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water can pursue damages by filing a traumatic brain injury lawsuit. By doing so, they may recover compensation for the following damages:
- Physical or mental suffering
- Medical expenses for cognitive brain injury rehabilitation and other health care expenses
- Loss of quality of life
- Wrongful death
Talk to a Non-Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer at Ehline Law Today!
Anyone who wants their severe brain injury cases or claims to be a success should hire the skilled personal injury attorneys at Ehline Law to handle their cases. These super lawyers work tirelessly to ensure that victims of brain injuries receive the compensation they deserve and will leave no stone unturned when digging for evidence.
It is sad enough that 50,000 are dying from traumatic brain injuries annually, according to the Brain Injury Association of America. Just like other common causes of brain damage, for example, motor vehicle accidents, Camp Lejeune’s contaminated drinking water is a major cause of concern as well.
Victims who have sustained brain injuries due to somebody else’s negligence or wrongful conduct can contact this personal injury law firm at (213) 596-9642 to book a free consultation.