The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has estimated that over one million people were exposed to contaminated water from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between the 1950s and the 1980s. Did you drink it? If so, you might have developed medical concerns to which you were not predisposed. A new law allows people who lived or worked on the base during a specified time frame to file personal injury lawsuits if they have developed various health problems. Surviving family members may also file suit. Many people in Columbia, SC may be eligible to claim damages. If you qualify to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit, the injury attorneys at HawkLaw want to help you get the compensation you deserve.

man in river holding a vial of water

What Is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows certain people to file suit against the federal government for damages related to toxic water exposure. Congress rolled the new law into a larger bill called the Honoring Our PACT Act. The bill made its way back and forth between the House and the Senate for about a year before Congress finally passed it. President Biden signed it into law on August 10, 2022.

The Honoring Our PACT Act, more formally known as the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, expands access to healthcare for service members and veterans who experienced various types of toxic chemical exposure. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has had a bad track record with regard to disability claims related to toxic exposure. The new law seeks to remedy that injustice.

The Camp Lejeune water contamination is just one type of toxic exposure addressed by the bill. It also addresses health conditions connected to “burn pits,” a method of waste disposal formerly used by service members overseas. Some materials thrown into the pits, such as plastic and electronics, produce toxic fumes when burned.

Is Camp Lejeune Water Still Contaminated?

The U.S. Marine Corps identified problems with Camp Lejeune’s water supply in the 1980s. It has deemed the water safe to drink since 1987. While this is good news for people who live and work on the base now, it does not help those who were affected from the 1950s to the 1980s.

How Did The Water Become Contaminated?

The Marine Corps detected toxic chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s water supply in the early 1980s. The ATSDR eventually traced the contamination to two of the base’s eight water treatment plants.

Tarawa Terrace Water Treatment Plant

Waste disposal practices from a nearby dry cleaning facility caused contamination of this plant’s water supply. The ATSDR determined that the levels of perchloroethylene (PCE), also known as tetrachloroethylene, exceeded the maximum safe limits for a 346-month period from November 1957 to February 1987. The base shut down the wells that showed the worst contamination levels in 1985.

Hadnot Point Water Treatment Plant

Contamination at this site came from several sources, including leaking underground storage tanks, waste disposal sites, and industrial spills. The ATSDR identified unsafe levels of several volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the water, including Trichloroethylene (TCE). It estimated that these levels persisted from August 1953 to January 1985.

What VOCs Were Found in the Contaminated Water Supply?

VOCs are a type of chemical used in industrial and commercial processes. Common uses for the VOCs found at Camp Lejeune include dry cleaning and degreasing.


PCE is a solvent commonly used in dry cleaning. Studies have not conclusively shown it to be a carcinogen, but it is linked to many types of cancer. PCE exposure can cause headaches, nausea, vision problems, and cognitive difficulties.


TCE is a solvent used for degreasing machine and engine parts and in various industrial and manufacturing processes. It is chemically similar to PCE. Exposure to TCE can cause many of the same symptoms.


Benzene is one of the most common industrial chemicals in the U.S. It is involved in the production of various forms of plastics, rubber, and other materials, along with many other uses. It is also a confirmed human carcinogen with links to several types of leukemia. Other symptoms of benzene exposure may include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, loss of consciousness, and nerve damage.

Vinyl Chloride

Vinyl chloride is a flammable gas at room temperature, although it can also exist as a liquid. It is used in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other materials. It may also form as a byproduct of TCE and PCE. Exposure to vinyl chloride may cause liver cancer and other health problems, including loss of sensation in the hands and feet, dizziness, and headaches.

How Does Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Affect Columbia Residents’ Health?

Toxic water from Camp Lejeune could have serious, lasting effects on your health. The ATSDR has linked many health issues to the VOCs found in the base’s water supply. Prolonged exposure to these VOCs can cause numerous medical conditions.

Birth Defects

Individuals who were exposed to water contamination in utero may have developed various birth defects as a result.

Fertility Issues

Exposure to VOCs at Camp Lejeune has been linked in some cases to infertility and related issues.


Multiple forms of cancer are linked to VOCs like benzene, TCE, and PCE, including:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Leukemia

Multiple Myeloma

This type of cancer develops in a type of white blood cell known as plasma cells. Instead of fighting infections, abnormal plasma cells attack the bone marrow and interfere with the production of healthy blood and bone cells.

Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic Anemia is part of a group of disorders known as myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). The condition involves the bone marrow’s inability to produce new blood cells, often as the result of attacks by the body’s immune system due to cancer.

Renal Toxicity

Exposure to TCE and PCE can damage the kidneys and interfere with their ability to function properly.

Parkinson’s Disease

This illness affects the brain’s ability to control body movements. It results from the loss of nerve cells that produce certain neurotransmitters.

Neurobehavioral Effects

Exposure to the VOCs found at Camp Lejeune is linked to various neurobehavioral effects, including memory loss, difficulty with concentration, fatigue, insomnia, and motor control issues.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

This type of cancer has links to benzene, TCE, and PCE exposure. It involves abnormal lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell which moves through the body, creating tumors.

If I Live in Columbia, SC Can I Still File a Lawsuit?

Whether you live in Columbia, South Carolina or anywhere else makes no difference to your rights under the new law. You can file a lawsuit as long as you meet the following criteria:

  • You lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. This may include military service members, family members, civilian employees, contractors, and others.
  • You spent at least thirty days on the base during that time.
  • You have developed a health problem that may be connected to your exposure to contaminated water at the base.

You can also file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one who lived or worked on the base and died of a health condition that has been linked to water contamination.

You do not have to prove that the government was negligent, nor do you have to establish a definitive link between your illness and the toxic chemicals found in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water.

Average Columbia Settlement for Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Since President Biden just signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act into law in early August 2022, no verdicts have occurred yet, and no information is available about settlements. The amount that you could expect to receive as a settlement will likely vary depending on factors like:

  • How long you were at the base and how much exposure you had to the toxic chemicals.
  • The health issues you are experiencing and how they have affected you.

HawkLaw has a history of recovering large amounts for our clients*, whether through settlements or verdicts. We will bring the same level of service to Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.

Why Trust the Columbia Attorneys at HawkLaw?

The Camp Lejeune water contamination was a terrible injustice against a group of people who served this country. After years of failing to provide adequate compensation, the federal government is finally allowing people who experienced toxic water exposure to receive damages and, hopefully, a measure of justice.

If you are among those who suffered illness or injuries because of the contaminated water supply, the attorneys at HawkLaw want what is in your best interest. Filing a claim for damages will be a complicated process. You will have to prove that you were present on the base for at least thirty days during a time period that ended more than thirty years ago. You must establish that you suffer from one or more health problems that may be associated with the VOCs found at the base. You have two years to do all of this. You probably have enough to worry about without this extra burden. HawkLaw’s attorneys are experienced in the legal process. They will handle the details of your claim, provide sound legal advice, and fight to get you what you deserve.

Thousands Have Already Filed a Lawsuit. Have You?

At HawkLaw, we value a transparent attorney-client relationship and are willing to fight for your rights as an injured person. To request a free consultation* with an experienced personal injury lawyer, call 888-HAWKLAW or complete the online contact form today.

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