Camp Lejeune Water Contamination is a tragic legacy of environmental pollution and public health neglect. From the 1950s to the 1980s, marine veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune were affected by the contaminated drinking water. The water contained toxic chemicals including benzene, vinyl chloride, and trichloroethylene.
Studies have found that exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune could cause different health problems, including cancers, birth defects, and reproductive issues. The VA estimates that over 900,000 individuals have been impacted by the contamination, making it one of the largest public health emergencies in US history.
The legacy of Camp Lejeune serves as a stark reminder of the importance of protecting public health and the environment and the need for continued vigilance and advocacy.
The History of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The history of this event dates back several decades. Camp Lejeune was established in 1942 as a US Marine Corps base in North Carolina. For several decades, service members and their families stationed at the base were exposed to contaminated drinking water which was later found to be contaminated with toxic chemicals.
The contamination is believed to have been caused by a range of activities at the base, including spills from fuel storage tanks, improper disposal of hazardous waste, and leaking underground storage tanks.
The discovery of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune was not made until many years later. In 1982, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed two of the contaminants found in the water supply, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene, as hazardous pollutants.
However, it was not until 1997 that the extent of the contamination was fully understood and the Navy notified residents of the base of the situation.
The Health Consequences of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The health consequences of consuming the chemical-infested water at Camp Lejeune are significant and well-documented. A study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) found that the toxic chemicals in the water supply were associated with an increased risk of cancers, birth defects, and other health problems.
In addition, a study published in the National Library of Science found that exposure to the contaminants was associated with an increased risk of death from Parkinson’s disease and adult leukemia.
Exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has also been found to various other health problems, including reproductive issues and developmental problems. In some cases, these health problems have persisted for generations, impacting not only those directly exposed to the contaminated water but also their children and grandchildren.
Despite the clear evidence of the health consequences of the contaminated water, many individuals who were affected by the contamination still struggle to access the care and support they need.
In response to this crisis, Congress passed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act in 2012. This act promises to provide medical treatment and benefits to affected individuals who experienced certain symptoms of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination.
The Response to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The response to this event has been a multi-decade effort involving the US government, advocacy organizations, and affected individuals and families.
In response to the contamination, the Navy has undertaken a comprehensive program of investigation and remediation at Camp Lejeune, including the installation of new water treatment systems and the removal of contaminated soil and groundwater. Despite these efforts, many affected individuals and families have criticized the response as being slow and inadequate.
Congress also passed an act that provided medical treatment and benefits to eligible veterans who were impacted by the contamination. The law also established a program to study the health effects of exposure to contaminated water and provides funding for health care and other related services.
However, the implementation of the law has been slow, and many individuals are still fighting to receive the care they need. In addition, a number of advocacy organizations continue to work to raise awareness of the issue and advocate for stronger protections for public health and the environment.
In conclusion, the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination is a tragic and ongoing story of environmental contamination, public health consequences, and inadequate response. Despite the clear evidence of harm, many individuals and families affected by the contamination continue to struggle to access the care and support they need.
The response to this event highlights the need for continued vigilance and advocacy to protect public health and the environment, and the importance of providing support to those who have been affected by environmental contamination. It also serves as a reminder of the need for continued action to address the consequences of environmental contamination and to ensure that the health and well-being of communities are protected.