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Fort Detrick Water Contamination Lawsuit

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In the last few decades, army veterans have come forward with cancer diagnoses reportedly caused by groundwater or land contamination due to Agent Orange testing at Maryland’s Fort Detrick. High levels of certain chemicals, like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and Trichloroethylene (TCE), have been shown to be responsible for different types of cancers.

Fort Detrick water contamination claims allege veterans and their family members developed cancer following repeated exposure to the high chemical levels.

If you were diagnosed with cancer after serving at the superfund site Fort Detrick, you may be eligible for compensation. While Fort Detrick claims can’t resolve the past, they can provide you and your family the compensation you need for medical care and treatment.

Updates on Fort Detrick Water Contamination Lawsuits

The Fort Detrick claims and lawsuits are ever-evolving. Here are a few of the most recent updates regarding these cases.

By February of 2023, additional water reports showed that while Fort Detrick’s water samples were within the location’s allocated range, they far exceeded the new standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.)

The health effects of Agent Orange in Fort Detrick may have also expanded beyond that of veterans’ direct exposure. Numerous reports show the water in the contaminated area B may have also extended to a group of Maryland residents outside of the base but close enough to the exposure area.

The Kristen Renee Foundation also conducted a study of the area surrounding Fort Detrick. The study found those living near Fort Detrick’s area B contaminated land and water had the same dangerous toxic chemicals in their bodies [3]. 

The group also recorded around 1,000 cases of cancer in the immediate surrounding Fort Detrick area. For additional proof, the Maryland Cancer Registry found that Frederick County had the highest occurrence of cancer in the entire state.

While most recent water reports show the water quality at Fort Detrick is now within regulatory standards, the damage has already been done. Thousands of military members and their family members have already noticed health conditions and received contaminant-related diagnoses from the Agent Orange testing.

In September of 2022, more groundwater testing found Fort Detrick wells contained trichloroethene and chloroform levels exceeding screening criteria. The same reports revealed traces of PFOA and PFOS were still found in the drinking water, exceeding regulatory standards.

A decade later, in July and September of 2020, a water quality report found that PFOS and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) exceeded regulatory limits at Fort Detrick. 

In November 2010, Senator Ben Cardin raised awareness of the toxic chemicals at Fort Detrick and how the dangerous contaminants were affecting both veterans and those living near the fort. He urged the federal government to take responsibility and clean up the contamination as quickly as possible [2].

In the early 2000s, scientists found the Fort Detrick military base had high levels of hazardous materials present in waste pits. The army began disposing of the chemical-filled pits in 2004 [1].

Fort Detrick Lawsuit Eligibility Criteria

If you have developed serious medical conditions from toxic exposure at Fort Detrick, you may have a claim for damages. Eligibility requirements include the following:

  • Proof of extended exposure: Typically, you need proof of at least six months of toxic exposure at Fort Detrick. Longer exposure can help your case.
  • Medical diagnosis: You must have an established diagnosis of a medical condition brought on by toxic exposure to dangerous substances at Fort Detrick.

If you meet these eligibility requirements, you may be entitled to compensation. Developing cancers, like bladder cancer or testicular cancer, could come from repeated exposure to the dangerous chemical landscape of Fort Detrick.

Toxic Chemicals in Fort Detrick Drinking Water

Fort Detrick is a military base in Frederick, Maryland, serving as a U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command. From 1943 until 1969, the base was the central location of the U.S. Biological Weapons Program [4]. Since then, the base has conducted biomedical research and development.

While active duty personnel expect some inherent risk when working with dangerous contaminants, the lawsuit claims the chemical exposure was far beyond the regulatory requirements.

Firefighters’ regular use of fire suppressant Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) on site is believed to have contaminated the water and ground near Fort Detrick with PFAS, containing over 9,000 dangerous chemicals [5]. Removing these chemicals from the army base is extremely difficult and may have led to many veterans developing cancer and other illnesses.

Victims have begun coming forward after being exposed to toxic chemical pollutants found on-site at Fort Detrick. The dangerous situation at Fort Detrick may have also expanded to the air and land. 

Even those living near Fort Detrick in Frederick County may have had high exposure to the dangerous substances [6], which have since been shown to lead to many health concerns, including cancer.

The fort’s water sources have tested positive for the following contaminants [7].

Perfluorooctanoic Acid, or PFAS, is a collection of dangerous chemicals that can cause a change in cholesterol liver enzymes and immune system responses. High levels of PFAS damage the body’s immune system and can lead to immune-deficiency diseases like Leukemia.

PFAS limits were once set at a maximum of 70 ppt, a number that has since been lowered to between 0.004 ppt (PFOA) and 0.02 ppt (PFOS) by the EPA.

Trichloroethylene, or TCE, is a known carcinogen that irritates the eyes and skin and causes damage to the liver. It is a chemical contaminant that doesn’t occur naturally, and its colorless makeup can make it difficult to identify. 

Repeated contact with TCE can lead to nerve damage, skin conditions, and liver and kidney damage. TCEs are well-known to cause a variety of cancers.

Tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, affects the body’s nervous system and cognitive functioning capabilities. PCE is most commonly found in groundwater and was present at Fort Detrick in the Area B groundwater. Repeated exposure to PCE can be responsible for respiratory illnesses and liver damage.

Benzene affects many bodily functions, including immune response. Benzenes are colorless and highly flammable, often found in water or ground contamination. Repeated exposure to Benzene contaminants could lead to different types of cancers, like leukemia.

Fort Detrick military and family members, as well as those living near the fort, could have also been exposed to other dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Other dangerous chemicals found at Fort Detrick include Dibromo, Bromodichloromethane, Chloroform, and Dibromochloromethane [8]. 

These dangerous chemicals and exposure to them have been shown to lead to a variety of health issues, including multiple myeloma and different cancers.

Health Problems Associated With Groundwater Contamination

The toxic chemicals found in Fort Detrick’s water sources have led to many serious health conditions. 

Water sources containing toxic contaminants like PFAS and TCE are thought to lead to conditions like thyroid disease, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer. Toxic exposure can also lead to a compromised immune system, breast cancer, and multiple myeloma. Exposure to these dangerous contaminants can also lead to leukemia.

If you think you’ve been subjected to toxic exposure at Fort Detrick, it’s crucial to seek medical attention. Discuss your condition with your physician, and if you haven’t yet developed any related illnesses, keep a close watch on your health.

How to File a Fort Detrick Water Contamination Lawsuit

If you were stationed at or living near Fort Detrick when chemical contamination levels were high, you may have a claim for compensation. Affected individuals can file a contamination lawsuit for compensation with the following steps:

  • Contact a lawyer: Contacting a lawyer with experience related to Fort Detrick lawsuits can help you determine your eligibility.
  • Gather evidence: Evidence can help build your case. Your legal team will help gather additional evidence, like expert witnesses and medical reports.

Evidence Needed to Support Your Claim

The following evidence can be helpful in your Fort Detrick lawsuit:

  • Medical records: Medical records showing health problems related to contaminated water.
  • Enrollment records: Proof of residency during the period when the groundwater had dangerous levels of contamination.
  • Financial statements: Financial statements showing the financial losses from the illness, including lost wages or medical bills.

You Have a Limited Time to File a Fort Detrick Lawsuit

It’s important to note that Fort Detrick lawsuits have a time limit. The exact time limit depends on the state in which you file, but it is usually around three years. Groundwater contamination is considered a “forever chemical,” but there’s still a limit on filing [9]. Failing to adhere to this timeline can make you ineligible for compensation.

You may be eligible for a military base groundwater contamination claim if you recently developed symptoms or received a cancer diagnosis after time spent at Fort Detrick in Maryland. 

If you developed breast cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, or another related illness after toxic exposure at Fort Detrick, it’s crucial that you reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible. 

Fort Detrick Lawsuit Settlement Evaluation

Actual compensation from military base groundwater contamination depends on many factors, including the specific details of your case. Estimated settlements may be between $25,000 and $1,000,000. A lawsuit makes you eligible to recover the following types of damages:

  • Financial losses: Any financial losses from a cancer diagnosis, including lost wages or diminished earning capability due to medical treatment.
  • Medical costs: A lawsuit can help cover previous and expected medical bills, including hospital fees, surgery costs, and cancer treatments.
  • Pain and suffering: A lawsuit can help collect money for the emotional pain and suffering that comes with a cancer diagnosis.
  • Loss of consortium: A wrongful death case can collect compensation following the loss of someone due to cancer or multiple myeloma conditions.
  • Funeral expenses: Funeral and burial expenses may also be a part of a Fort Detrick lawsuit if the veteran lost their life prematurely.

Contact a Fort Detrick Water Contamination Lawyer Today!

Jonathan Rosenfeld, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were stationed at Fort Detrick, Maryland, and have now developed symptoms or a diagnosis of cancer, you may be eligible for a lawsuit. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers represents veterans and their families who developed medical problems after water contamination on the base.

We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you never pay anything unless we win your case. A free consultation also means there’s no risk in finding out if you have a case.

Call us today at (888) 424-5757 or contact us online to discuss your legal options.

Resources: [1] Maryland Department of the Environment, [2] Ben Cardin Press Release, [3]  PR Newswire, [4] U.S. Army, [5] Silent Spring Institute, [6] U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan, [7] United States Environmental Protection Agency, [8] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, [9] Indiana Capital Chronicle

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