Over 1 million Camp Lejeune military families and area residents are waiting to receive justice after it was revealed their drinking water was toxic. These families are seeking damages against CTS Corporation, the company responsible for the pollution. Those affected suffer from liver, kidney and heart ailments, several types of cancer and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Additionally, drinking the toxic water led to many deaths for caused by the toxic drinking water. For decades, Camp Lejeune and Ashville, N.C. residents were exposed to trichloroethylene( a known carcinogen), benzene and perchloroethylen.
In 1980, U.S. Marine Corps began testing the finished water at Camp Lejeune for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) but did not test the water wells feeding the camp or housing areas. In 1982, the Navy noted contaminated sites on the base. The next year, knowing there was VOCs, the Navy again said there was unsubstantiated explanation for pollution, so they did not check water wells. From 1984 to 1985, it was finally determined that the wells and groundwater contained VOCs. Nine wells have since been shut down permanently and remaining wells are checked for VOCs quarterly.
Today, the U.S. Department of Justice sided with CTS Corporation in a ruling against a related lawsuit, CTS v Waldburger. The final ruling will decide whether the federal environmental law preempts North’s Carolina’s 10-year “statute of repose” to file a lawsuit. The water pollution took place from 1959 to 1985 and the knowledge that the toxic water had or would cause illness was not brought to light until 1997, after the 10-year limit for those affected to file a lawsuit. The 10-year ‘statute repose” does not allow victims to seek damages for illnesses or loss of loved ones if they did not file before 1995.
With a divided Supreme Court, Erin Brockovich took up this cause and rallied on the steps of the Supreme Court to support the victims and their families. In response to the 10- year statute of repose potentially being upheld, Brockovich said, “All of the serviceman and woman who have come home and found that their families have been poisoned, many have had their children die in their arms, and they will have no recourse.”
While we wait for a final Supreme Court decision whether a victim or family member may file a lawsuit, many are suffering and unable to afford their medical bills. The Department of Veteran Affairs has posted information on how to get medical care reimbursement if you or your family members have been affected by the Camp Lejeune toxic water while serving or training on premise and have related symptoms. Click here for more information.