VA’s high rejection rate of Camp Lejeune claims continues: the military’s toxic legacy of water contamination

by | Jul 10, 2023

This story is intended to raise awareness about issues surrounding Camp Lejeune water contamination and is sponsored by Environmental Litigation Group, P.C.

While most military bases nationwide have a history of toxic environmental contamination, the case of Camp Lejeune stands out because of the severity and extent of the issue. Between 1953 and 1987, as many as one million people living at the military base drank water in which volatile organic compounds were lurking. Specifically, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with trichloroethylene, benzene, perchloroethylene, and vinyl chloride.

The main source of these solvents was their improper use and disposal by a nearby dry-cleaning facility, ABC One-Hour Cleaners. However, benzene also ended up in the drinking water because 800,000 gallons of fuel leaked from the military base’s fuel farm, which subsequently infiltrated the groundwater. Furthermore, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS or “forever chemicals,” were also present in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune.

The Toxic Sources of Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Another source of water contamination at the military base was service members using solvents, particularly trichloroethylene, to clean up weapons and equipment during the last century. These chemicals infiltrated the drinking water through wells that pumped groundwater into the drinking water systems. The water from some of these wells was affected by past on-base industrial and chemical disposal activities and by leaking storage tanks.

Two of the eight drinking water sources at the military base were heavily contaminated with industrial solvents – Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace. At the former, the trichloroethylene level exceeded the safe exposure limit by 280 times, whereas at the latter, the perchloroethylene level eclipsed it by 43 times. While the water at Camp Lejeune is safe to drink now, half a million veterans and their families who lived there when it was toxic might come to struggle with serious diseases.

Due to the extent of toxic water contamination, Camp Lejeune was placed on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List by the Environmental Protection Agency on October 4, 1989.

Since then, intense cleanup activities have been ongoing at the military base to remove volatile organic compounds from the drinking water supplies. Cleanup endeavors to ensure water safety include water quality testing and compliance with current waste management regulations.

Recovering Compensation as a Camp Lejeune Veteran and Family Member  

Exposure to such a harmful concoction of chemicals might cause terrible, even life-threatening diseases among veterans, family members, and civilians who spent time at Camp Lejeune during the 34 years the drinking water was contaminated. These diseases include kidney, bladder, liver, and pancreatic cancer. It is important for veterans to know that they can apply for VA disability compensation if they drank toxic water at Camp Lejeune and now struggle with a disease.

Although money cannot restore health, people whose health was compromised by toxic water exposure at the military base can seek financial compensation from the government under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which was signed into law on August 11, 2022. Everyone who drank toxic water at the military base and developed a qualifying disease can file a lawsuit with the government to obtain financial compensation – veterans, family members, and civilians.

It is important for veterans to know that they are entitled to compensation both from the VA and under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. Because seeking compensation by yourself can be a very challenging and time-consuming endeavor, it is recommended to look for a reliable, experienced attorney whose main area of practice is toxic exposure. Not only will they assist you with the most complex aspects of the legal process, but working with them will also greatly increase your chances of obtaining the maximum compensation you deserve for your unjust suffering.

With over 30 years in pursuing compensation for toxic exposure victims, the attorneys at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. will gladly take up your case and help you recover the money you are entitled to, either as a veteran or a family member of one who lived at Camp Lejeune while the drinking water was contaminated. Our attorneys can help you file a VA disability claim and a lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. Because we prioritize Camp Lejeune toxic water victims, you will benefit from quality legal assistance and have your claim filed as soon as possible.

About the Author
Jonathan Sharp is Chief Financial Officer at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. The law firm, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, assists toxic exposure victims, including veterans and family members injured by drinking contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Sharp is responsible for the management of firm assets, case evaluation, and financial analysis.


  1. eva

    Amazing. Can’t believe the government did this to people.

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