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How toxic materials in the water at Camp Lejeune affected soldiers, survivors, and families


Soldiers and families stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina Marine Corps Base from August 1953 through December 1987 might have been exposed to toxic water due to the dumping of oil, industrial wastewater, and radioactive chemicals into storm drains.

At the Tarawa Terrace family housing units, the drinking and bathing water might possibly have been contaminated with one or more of the following toxins:

  • Perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry-cleaning solvent;
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE), a degreaser;
  • Benzene, an industrial solvent; and,
  • Vinyl chloride, a colorless, flammable gas used in plastics.

The levels of PCE and TCE found in the water during this time period exceeded the parts per million allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as mentioned in the Safe Drinking Water Act.

As chemicals from several local businesses adjacent to the Camp Lejeune military base leaked into water supplying the Tarawa Terrace drinking water system, veterans, workers, and families were exposed to health-threatening conditions.

Although the base shut down the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant in 1987 because of toxic contamination, the damage had already been done and senior base officials sought to cover it up from the media.

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