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Update on Camp Lejeune’s Poisoned Water

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Veterans and their family members who were exposed to contaminated water while living at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune are 70% more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than other service members, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Monday.

Beck, Lenox & Stolzer Estate Planning and Elder Law is passing along an article with an update on Camp Lejeune’s poisoned water and its impact on military personnel stationed there from the early 1950s to the late 1980s. Military Times’ recent article, “Camp Lejeune’s poisoned water caused higher rates of Parkinson’s,” reports that the findings are the latest confirmation of the lifelong, devastating effects of the toxic water at the site.  The news may also add more fodder to dozens of civil lawsuits pending against the government for the hazardous conditions there, which may have harmed more than one million individuals stationed at the North Carolina base.

Researchers found that about one in every 370 troops reviewed for the study showed signs of the disease. It’s a brain disorder that causes uncontrollable movements of the limbs and body.

This result is significantly above the control groups of veterans examined.

The study didn’t specifically examine spouses and children living at the base. Researchers still concluded that the findings “suggest that the risk of Parkinson’s disease is higher in persons exposed to trichloroethylene and other volatile organic compounds in the water.”

According to the CDC, those chemicals leached into water supplies at the base from an off-site dry cleaning firm in the area. This is the first time Beck, Lenox & Stolzer has heard of this source.

According to the National Research Council, leaks from underground storage tanks and industrial site pollution also contributed to the contamination. Military officials didn’t discover the toxic water quality until 1982, almost 30 years after the contamination began.

The Department of Veterans Affairs already has Parkinson’s disease listed as one of multiple presumptive conditions related to service at the site. Therefore, for vets who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days and developed the illness, it’s presumed the disease originated there. As a result, they don’t have to prove a military connection when applying for disability compensation.

However, these benefits don’t extend to family members.

Last year, as part of the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, lawmakers for the first time allowed those individuals (and veterans who believe they are entitled to additional payouts) to sue the government “for harm caused by exposure to the contaminated water.”

Those lawsuits are still pending in federal courts, and lawmakers have expressed concerns about the number of lawyers advertising quick resolutions on the issue. They are discussing possible limits to attorney’s fees and commissions related to any Camp Lejeune legal decisions.

Beck, Lenox & Stolzer specializes in estate planning and elder law, and does not take on litigation cases. If you or someone you know needs legal assistance in pursuing a compensation case in this particular matter, schedule a free phone call with one of our attorneys. The attorney will ask you some questions and can refer you to a law firm that we trust to serve Veterans.  Click here to schedule the call. You may also schedule the phone call by calling our office at 636-946-7899.

Reference: Military Times (May 15, 2023) “Camp Lejeune’s poisoned water caused higher rates of Parkinson’s”

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