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Camp Lejeune and Liver Cancer

Marines, their loved ones, and others who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and have developed liver cancer are filing lawsuits. The water at Camp Lejeune was polluted with toxic cancer-causing chemicals. All four contaminants detected at unsafe levels in the water at Camp Lejeune have been linked to liver cancer.

Camp Lejeune Water and Liver Cancer

The four chemicals associated with liver cancer detected in the water at Camp Lejeune are:

  • Benzene: Benzene is produced by both natural and man-made processes. It is used in industries such as the chemical and oil industries, and studies have shown that workers in those industries have a higher risk of developing liver cancer.
  • Perchloroethylene (PCE): PCE is an organic chemical and is toxic to humans, even in low concentrations. It is the primary solvent used in industrial and commercial dry cleaning, and tests showed extraordinarily high levels of PCE in Camp Lejeune’s water. PCE has been linked to liver cancer since the early 1960s. One source of the PCE in the water at Camp Lejeune is thought to be an off-base dry-cleaner named ABC One-Hour Cleaners.
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE): TCE is a colorless volatile organic compound. It was widely used in industry as a cleaning agent and a degreaser, mainly for metal. At Camp Lejeune, TCE was used, among other things, to clean machinery. It is likely the TCE contamination in the water came from that cleaning use, from spills at industrial sites on-base, and from leaks from storage drums and underground tanks. Another source of the TCE contamination was an off-base dry-cleaner named ABC One-Hour Cleaners. That dry cleaner used some of the TCE sludge left over from its cleaning process to fill potholes, and also simply dumped it into the drains. Rainwater then carried off the discarded sludge, which eventually leached into the drinking water.
  • Vinyl chloride: Vinyl chloride is a man-made chemical used in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic material. The link between exposure to vinyl chloride and liver cancer is well-documented.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that the levels of these four carcinogenic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune were well above the maximum contaminant levels allowed in the United States. The maximum levels for PCE, TCE, and vinyl chloride are 5 parts per billion (ppb), and the maximum is 2 ppb for benzene. The ATSDR reported that, “In the Hadnot Point system, the median monthly estimated average concentrations of TCE, PCE, vinyl chloride and benzene was 366 ppb, 15 ppb, 22 ppb and 5 ppb, respectively. In the Tarawa Terrace system, the median monthly estimated average concentrations of PCE, TCE and vinyl chloride were 85 ppb, 4 ppb and 6 ppb.”

Almost without exception, the levels of those carcinogenic chemicals found in Camp Lejeune water are far over the legal limit. In fact, they are generally multiples of the legal maximums—exceeding 70x the legal limit in the case of the PCE level in the Hadnot Point system. Compare the 5 ppb and 2 ppb legal limits to the average concentrations of 366 ppb, 15 ppb, 22 ppb, and 85 ppb.

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer develops when cells in the liver begin to grow uncontrollably and form tumors. The liver is the largest organ in the body. It aids in digestion, stores nutrients, and filters toxins. So, it is not surprising that exposure to toxins is a known risk factor for liver cancer. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as TCE and PCE are known carcinogens—exposure to which is specifically associated with increased risk of liver cancer. Benzene and vinyl chloride have similar associations.

Camp Lejeune, the PACT Act, Contaminated Water, and Liver Cancer

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 allows those affected by the toxic water and who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 consecutive days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, to file a lawsuit in federal court to be compensated for their pain and suffering and for expenses related to their diagnosis and medical treatment.

Even veterans who have had claims related to their service at Camp Lejeune denied by the Veterans Administration may qualify for compensation under this new law.

But there are strict time limits for filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit. People diagnosed before June 2020 must file their lawsuit by August 2024 (two years from the passage of the Act). And there are other requirements, too. So, if you served or worked at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and have been diagnosed with liver cancer, contact us for a free consultation.



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