Is the Water at Camp Lejeune Still Contaminated? – Know The Details
If you or someone you love was diagnosed with an illness or disease related to contamination, you may wonder if the water at Camp Lejeune is still contaminated. In recent years, three distinct treatment methods have been underway to deal with groundwater contamination. Treatments include reducing the chlorination in the water, balancing its oxidation levels, and treating it with a biobarrier. These treatment methods are expected to continue through the end of 2022.
The results of ongoing treatment are measured in five-year periods to ensure the safety and protection of the environment and the people in the Camp Lejeune area. The most recent findings cite the long-term effectiveness of the treatment technologies. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also enforced several restrictions to prohibit the use of the affected land.
Cleanup Efforts at Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps Base and Air Station, was the site of contaminated soil, residue, and surface and ground waters from approximately 1950 to 1985. According to the EPA, the North Carolina site was on their Superfund program’s National Priorities List in 1989. So the question arises is the Water at Camp Lejeune Still Contaminated? The answer is no.
Strategic cleanup began in 1991 and continues today. This cleanup includes continual monitoring, as well as taking steps that minimize or limit use, control of, and contact with the affected area.
Cleanup Efforts Through 2001
Cleanup efforts have improved the area’s water supply and protected others from the hazards of contamination. Initial cleanup at Camp Lejeune included removing and safely discarding known contaminants, such as:
- Waste liquids
- Storage tanks
- Dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL)
Other cleanup efforts were also part of this initial effort which included the installation of a groundwater treatment system and bio-treatment cell of affected soil.
Cleanup Efforts Through 2009
U.S. Navy efforts to improve the water and environment at Camp Lejeune included a pilot program that uses electrical resistance heating on sites with DNAPL. This resulted in the eradication of approximately 48,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the affected soil.
Cleanup was completed at the following sites:
- OU-7 (Sites 1, 28, and 30)
- OU-4 (Sites 41 and 74)
- OU-16 (Site 93)
This phase of the cleanup process also included control measures, periodic monitoring of the groundwater, and the introduction of oxidants to help break down known contaminants. Further efforts were restrictions aimed at providing additional protection.
Cleanup Efforts Through 2015
The areas affected by this phase of cleanup were:
- Site 6 (OU-2)
This phase also involved installing new treatment systems in the following areas:
- Site 35
- Site 73
- Site 89
- Site 69
This phase also included adding an impermeable protection layer at Site 69, which was completed in 2014. Additional Records of Decision (ROD) were made for Site 49 (OU-23) and Site UXO-19 (OU-25) in 2015. Efforts made at Site UXO-19 also include steps to minimize exposure to its soil contaminants.
Cleanup Efforts Through 2019
Recent cleanup remedies occurred at Site UXO-06 (OU24). They involved safety control measures and munitions surface clearance. Additional ROD areas are Site UXO-24 and Site 37 (OU26).
At this time, it’s possible that there’s no need for additional control efforts on these sites. Testing in these areas indicates that no unacceptable risks are posed to people or to the atmosphere.
What Toxins Caused Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride as toxins in the water at Camp Lejeune.
How these contaminants might affect your health depends on factors like your age, when exposure occurred, level of exposure, and length of exposure.
How Have These Toxins Affected People’s Health?
The potential health risks associated with drinking water contamination related to Camp Lejeune can vary according to the type of contaminant. Some illnesses and diseases currently linked to exposure are:
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Multiple myeloma
Additional medical conditions include infertility in women as well as miscarriages and birth defects.
Military personnel and their families, civilian employees, and others exposed to the base’s water supply prior to 1987 may qualify to seek compensation.