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Military Base Water Contamination Lawsuit

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Military base water contamination lawsuits involve legal claims filed primarily by employees, service members, or their families who have lived on or near military bases and have been exposed to unsafe elevated levels of toxic chemicals, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

These claimants are looking for compensation for negative health consequences arising from prolonged exposure to the hazardous chemicals found in drinking water sources. 

If you or a loved one believe you have been adversely affected by water contamination at a military base, contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today to schedule your free consultation. We can investigate the specifics of your situation and explore all potential avenues for pursuing justice and compensation.

Military Base Water Contamination Lawsuit Updates

As various lawsuits regarding military base water contamination continue to unfold, there continue to be developments. 

An important date is on the horizon for individuals impacted by water contamination at Camp Lejeune. By August 10th, 2024, claimants must take action and officially file their federal lawsuit against the United States government if they believe health problems were caused by the water at Camp Lejeune. [1]

The court’s approval of a multi-billion dollar settlement marks a pivotal point in PFAS water contamination lawsuits. [2] This approved settlement will address clean-up costs for public water systems contaminated by PFAS containing products, specifically those made by 3M. 

This initial stage of litigation chiefly covered municipal water supplies and direct damages incurred from PFAS contamination. 

The focus now shifts to outstanding personal injury claims linked to AFFF firefighting foam. Trials centered on these cases are scheduled in late 2024, igniting speculation there may be potential settlements reached between the plaintiffs and defendants within the coming years.

In preparation for the carefully watched trials over PFAS chemicals at Camp Lejeune, the court recently declared which specific illnesses will be central to Track 2 cases. 

By identifying and grouping together the most commonly reported illnesses linked to exposure conditions within this Marine Corps base’s problematic water supplies, the court aims to facilitate an expedited process to resolve claims that share common ground regarding medical problems reportedly stemming from PFAS contamination at Camp Lejeune.

The landscape of a military base cancer lawsuit is complex and constantly evolving. If you or someone you know may be affected by these issues, it’s critical to stay informed about your legal rights and options.

Who Can File a Military Water Contamination Lawsuit?

If you believe that toxic exposure at military installations has affected your health or the well-being of a family member, here are some general guidelines regarding who may be eligible:

  • Active Duty Military Personnel: Active duty service members who have come into contact with toxic substances in contaminated water—like PFAS (known as forever chemicals)—may be able to file a lawsuit based on the negative effects they’ve experienced as a result. 
  • Military Family Members: Spouses and children of military personnel living on base can often file suits in cases where they’ve been negatively impacted by hazardous chemicals at a military base. For example, if they’ve developed cancer as a result of contaminated military bases.
  • Civilian Employees on Base: Civilians working within military bases who have been affected by toxic exposure may also seek legal recourse through traditional civil litigation processes.

Which Military Bases Have Contaminated Water?

Across the United States, numerous military bases have faced issues involving water contamination. This health and environmental concern caused by exposure to hazardous substances has affected both current service members and veterans as well as their families. 

Some of the widely known contamination areas include:

For three decades, from the early 1950s until 1985, water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with industrial solvents. This contamination came to light in the early 80s, and it was blamed on poor maintenance of a fuel depot and unregulated dumping from an off-base dry cleaner.

At Camp Pendleton, toxic chemicals (like PFAS and other toxic substances) became pervasive in groundwater due to military activities. The presence of these chemicals can be attributed to the use of firefighting foams along with other military-specific products that have found their way into the base’s groundwater. [3]

Water pollution at Cherry Point includes widespread petroleum and PFAS pollutants. Additionally, a particular site at the base, known as Site 90, is reported to be contaminated with VOCs. There has also been the discovery of a tar-like substance beneath Burn Pit E that poses potential risks as another source of contamination. [4]

Recent water tests have revealed contaminants such as PFAS, lead, and arsenic at levels above health advisory limits. Long-term exposure to these pollutants raises serious health concerns for residents and those serving in the United States Armed Forces. [5]

At Fort Bragg, water testing has shown the presence of PFOA and PFOS, both perfluoroalkyl substances, widely used chemicals noted for their persistence in the human body and longevity within the environment. This makes them a lasting concern for anyone living or working on base. [6]

Investigations and PFAS testing at Fort Carson have pointed to a potential link between firefighting foam usage and heightened PFAS levels as reflected in groundwater well analyses. The reported contamination rates have surpassed safety thresholds known as lifetime health advisory limits. [7]

Fort Detrick faced serious contamination concerns with the discovery that radioactive materials and lethal chemical agents, including phosgene and anthrax, were buried in areas on base. 

Further issues arose in the 1990s when trichloroethene (TCE) and tetrachloroethene (PCE) were found permeating groundwater supplies—substances associated with substantial cancer risks—and these chemicals even surfaced within residential well water. [8]

Carcinogenic substances have been found in the water at Fort Dix, namely PFAS, TCE, PCE, and benzene. The presence of these contaminants represents a significant health risk to base residents and workers potentially exposed over long periods. [9]

Recent reports indicate that the drinking water at Fort Drum contains a concentration of PFOS and PFOA chemicals. Even trace amounts can raise safety concerns due to their proven persistence within environmental systems as well as human tissue. [10]

Testing on potable water sources at Fort Jackson unearthed levels of lead content breaching guidelines set forth by South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHE) standards. Prolonged exposure to lead in drinking water can lead to serious detrimental impacts on health. [11]

Former residents of the now-closed Fort Ord continue to face water pollution as a result of military practices, including irresponsible burning and disposal. Chemicals were indiscriminately burned or sprayed haphazardly with solvents, and untreated chemical sludge was dumped in leaking underground storage tanks, leading to groundwater contamination. [12]

Understanding which military bases are affected by contaminated water highlights the extent of environmental issues faced by those involved in military service and the importance of their right to seek if they’ve been harmed.

Toxic Chemicals in Military Base Drinking Water

Military bases across the country have grappled with issues arising from various toxic substances having infiltrated drinking water supplies. Here are some of the most notable types: 

PFAS, the forever chemical, is a group of chemicals that have emerged as a significant public health concern. They’ve been used extensively in industrial processes and consumer products for their fire-retardant properties.

These substances remain in the environment for an extended period due to their stability across temperature changes—hence their nickname: “forever chemicals.” 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PFAS exposure can lead to serious adverse health conditions, including different types of cancer, including kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer. 

Many PFAS lawsuits have been filed as a result of contaminated military sites.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a solvent historically used to degrease metal parts, serving not only as an issue within manufacturing industries but also contaminating water sources near military installations where it was frequently employed. 

Long-term exposure to TCE has been linked with severe health issues, including an increased risk of cancer, like kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and others.

Benzene is another hazardous chemical that found its way into the drinking water at many military bases. Primarily used as a base chemical in various industries for the production of plastics and synthetic fibers, it can lead to contaminated airspace and groundwater when not handled properly, posing significant risks such as leukemia for those exposed.

Other dangerous and toxic chemicals found in military drinking water can include heavy metals like lead, along with a variety of volatile organic compounds. 

These chemicals have the potential to cause long-lasting health effects, ranging from developmental issues in children to chronic diseases like cancer. Due to their durability, they pose risks wherever they’re situated. They are slow to break down, causing persistent contamination problems for years.

Sources of Drinking Water Toxic Substances in Military Bases

Contaminated drinking water on military bases can be traced back to various sources linked to the activities and maintenance protocols of these military sites. These sources have historically resulted in long-term environmental impacts, often remaining undetected for long periods until their effects become widespread. Common contributors include:

Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), the main chemical in firefighting foam, is used in firefighting training exercises. It was often used at facilities such as military bases, airports, and firefighting training facilities. 

The critical concern is that these AFFFs contain PFOS and PFOA, the two most well-known PFAS chemicals, which are highly resistant to breaking down and lead to serious health issues. PFOS and PFOA in these foams absorb into the ground and find their way into the groundwater. 

Many AFFF lawsuits have been filed as a result.

Jet fuel leaks from military-operated storage containers and systems have become a notable source of waterborne contamination on bases.

The release of jet fuel into the environment raises alarm as its harmful compounds, such as benzene, toluene, ethylene, and xylene, resist natural degradation processes over lengthy periods. These substances penetrate the soil to compromise groundwater quality, presenting considerable risks when tapped for drinking sources.

The risks posed by poorly maintained underground storage tanks (USTs) have become prominently associated with contamination incidents at numerous military installations, exemplified most notably by the events affecting Lejeune and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman.

Historically, USTs lack of effective monitoring allowed leaks to go unnoticed until they escalated to widespread problematic scenarios. Advances in policy now mandate updates such as enforced switching of outdated single-walled variants towards double-hulled models designed with leakage prevention in mind. 

Despite these improvements, there still exist USTs in operation that do not feature necessary updates to their construction.

For decades, industrial solvents consisting of harmful chemicals have been a mainstay within various military operations. 

Dry cleaning processes utilized at this base led to the presence of toxic substances such as TCE and PCE entering the groundwater supply system, subsequently affecting potable water sources. In the 1950s, for example, practices involving these solvents at Camp Lejeune resulted in water contamination.

These chemicals are well-documented contaminants with long-term adverse effects on health; their impact became evident through widespread illness among service members based at Lejeune and their families who were exposed over long periods of time through consumption or usage of contaminated water.

Military base waste disposal protocols – or a lack of them – have historically contributed to significant contamination issues. Landfill sites, used for the dumping of various military-related waste, have frequently exceeded their capacity or been managed without proper safeguarding measures in place.

Over time, chemicals from these landfills can seep into neighboring soil layers, eventually contaminating local groundwater supplies. 

Health Risks of Drinking Contaminated Water

Drinking contaminated water poses substantial health risks, potentially leading to a range of serious and sometimes chronic health conditions. Understanding the potential health effects of consuming these contaminants is crucial for communities living in high-risk areas, like those near military bases. 

Here are some of the symptoms and consequences of toxic exposure: 

After consuming water that has been contaminated, you might experience almost immediate symptoms which can include headache, dizziness, stomach pain, and nausea, as well as skin rashes. These are often the first indicators that something is not right with the drinking water supply.

Lasting toxic exposure to this pollution has a very real potential to lead to chronic illnesses like liver and kidney damage, disorders of the nervous system, and reproductive issues. These forever chemicals can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses and infections. 

Research has established that exposure to certain contaminants found in water can significantly increase the risk of developing various forms of cancer. [13] Specifically:

  • Leukemia: Linked with benzene and other solvents, leukemia affects both blood and bone marrow. 
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: This form of cancer concerns the lymphatic system, an integral part of your immune response.
  • Bladder Cancer: Prolonged toxic exposure to certain organic chemicals often found in water has been linked with bladder cancer, affecting the tissue lining the organ.
  • Liver Cancer: Toxic industrial solvents, including TCE and PCE – common contaminants at many military bases – have been connected to a higher risk of liver cancer resulting from long-term substance release into drinking supplies. 

This is just an example of some of the types of cancer that can result from toxic water at military installations; it is by no means an exhaustive list.

Pregnant women who drink water contaminated with these toxic substances and their developing fetus face significant risk. 

As a result, these expectant mothers may be at greater odds of experiencing a miscarriage or stillbirth after toxic exposure. Additionally, drinking contaminated water during pregnancy can pose infant health issues following birth—like neural tube defects affecting brain formation or low birth weight.

The health complications associated with contaminated water are alarming and can have devastating lifelong effects. If you or a loved one have been exposed to such unsafe conditions and have developed cancer or any other serious health consequences, seeking legal assistance is critical.

How to File a Military Base Water Contamination Lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit for water PFAS contamination or exposure to other hazardous chemicals on a military base involves several crucial steps. This process seeks to address the health issues and damages resulting from exposure to contaminated water. 

Here’s a guide to navigating these toxic exposure and PFAS lawsuits:

  • Gather evidence: Collect medical records documenting your health issues and any diagnoses related to exposure to contaminated water. Also, gather any available evidence of residence or service on the affected military base during the PFAS contamination period.
  • Consult with an attorney: Seek out a lawyer or law firm specializing in environmental personal injury law and military-related cases. They will have the expertise to advise you on the viability of your case and the specific laws that may apply.
  • File a claim under the relevant act: Depending on the timing and location of the PFAS contamination, specific acts may provide a pathway for seeking financial compensation. For instance, veterans and families affected by Camp Lejeune’s water contamination can file claims under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. Your attorney will guide you on the appropriate path under which to file your claim.
  • Document exposure and significant harm: Provide detailed documentation of your exposure to the contaminated water and the resulting health effects. 
  • Join a PFAS class action lawsuit, if applicable: In some cases, joining a PFAS class action lawsuit may be the best course of action. When many individuals have been affected similarly, a class action can provide a way to consolidate evidence.
  • Prepare for litigation: Be prepared for the possibility of going to court. This includes being ready to provide testimony and evidence. However, many cases are settled out of court, so litigation is not always necessary.

Stay informed about the progress of your lawsuit and maintain communication with your attorney. Being proactive in your case can help ensure the best possible outcome.

If you are concerned about the impacts of contaminated water exposure on your health or that of a loved one, it’s important to take action. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has experience with cases involving toxic chemicals and can provide the support and advocacy needed to seek justice for those harmed by such negligence. 

Military Base Water Contamination Lawsuit Compensation Evaluation

Military base water contamination cases can vary widely in terms of compensation, and it’s necessary to have an attorney review the specifics of your case to get a better idea of what you might be entitled to. 

Ultimately, the recoverable damages may include costs for medical treatments already done or anticipated ones going forward due to exposure, income lost if you were unable to work due to health complications, and numerous types of pain and suffering damages such as emotional distress. 

Compensation amounts can range quite broadly, from as low as $100,000 to upwards of several million dollars. The severity and permanence of any illnesses or injuries sustained due to the contaminated water will likely be a significant factor in determining the amount.

Understanding the potential severity of military base contamination claims and their compensation implications can be complex. If you believe you’ve been affected, it’s crucial to consult with legal professionals experienced in this field. 

Contact a Military Base Water Contamination Lawyer Today!

Jonathan Rosenfeld, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer specialized in a military base contaminated water lawsuit increases your chances of understanding the full scope of legal avenues available and securing compensation for harm suffered due to these egregious environmental practices.

Our firm operates on a contingency fee basis, which means you owe us nothing unless we secure compensation for your case. With this approach, you can be certain we’re invested in your success and work diligently to achieve the best outcome.

Contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today to speak with an experienced military base water contamination lawyer. Reach out online or call us at (888) 424-5757.

Resources: [1], [2] c&en, [3] EPA, [4] EPA, [5] AEC, [6] PFAS Project Lab, [7] Colorado News Line, [8] News Medical Life Sciences, [9], [10] EWG, [11] News19, [12] EPA, [13] NIH

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