Camp Lejeune officials first became aware that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were interfering with the analysis of drinking water samples in 1981 that were being collected to comply with future drinking water standards. In 1982 and 1983, continued testing identified two VOCs--trichloroethylene (TCE), a metal degreaser, and tetrachloroethylene (PCE), a dry cleaning solvent--in two water systems that served base housing areas, Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace. There were no regulatory standards at the time and Base officials did not know the source of VOCs; water treatment plants and piping infrastructure were investigated as the source. In 1984 and 1985, a Navy environmental program identified VOCs in some of the individual wells serving the Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace water systems. The affected wells were subsequently removed from service. Department of Defense (DOD) and North Carolina officials concluded that on- and off-base sources were likely to have caused the contamination.
From November 1984 to February 1985, eight Hadnot Point wells and two Tarawa Terrace wells were taken out of service due to sampling results indicating the presence of VOC's.
When the VOCs first appeared as sample interference, Base officials began to investigate – starting with the sampling process, proceeding to eliminate laboratory error, and finally exploring the water treatment plant and piping infrastructure as sources of the VOCs. In late 1984, the Base began receiving the results of the first round of sampling conducted as part of the Naval Assessment and Control of Installation Pollutants (NACIP) program. These results were the first indication the Base had that VOCs in the groundwater were impacting some of the drinking water wells. Base officials promptly shut down the wells.
The Marine Corps did not know that the chemicals were coming from the groundwater until well sampling began for another environmental clean-up program in late 1984. As soon as it was discovered that the chemicals were moving into the wells, the wells were taken out of service.
Nine of 10 wells taken out of service have been permanently demolished (piping removed and holes filled in). One well, 652, was returned to service in 1993 following multiple clean samples. This well is in service today. Drinking water is checked for VOCs, quarterly (more frequently than required by law) to ensure water is not impacted.
Upon initial discovery of contamination in the wells in 1984, the Base Commanding General at the time sent a letter to all residents. The Marine Corps also published news articles in the base paper and distributed press releases to local media.
In 1999, the Marine Corps conducted an outreach/mass media campaign to assist the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in locating potential participants for the scientific study. This study population included parents that were pregnant while living in on-base housing from 1968 – 1985. To assist ATSDR with its recruiting efforts for the study, the Marine Corps distributed announcements to more than 3,500 media outlets (TV, daily & weekly newspapers), as well as releasing two (2) separate worldwide Marine Messages.
What steps have you taken to prepare for notification as required in the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)?
Over the past two years, several steps have been taken to notify those who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune of the historic drinking water issue. To identify and inform these individuals, the Marine Corps developed an outreach response using multiple forms of communication and media.
- Distributed print articles to more than 10,000 newspapers nationwide
- Created radio spots distributed to more than 6,500 radio stations
- Developed online advertising for consumer and military-related websites: WebMD, Vietnam Veterans of America and Leatherneck and Gazette
- Placed advertising in national publications, including USA Today, Time and Newsweek
- Placed advertising in military-related publications, such as Leatherneck, Gazette and Semper Fi.
- Provided posters and print announcements distributed to VA facilities nationwide
- Distributed posters to all US-based commissaries
- Conducted interviews with newspaper and broadcast journalists
- Created a website providing a compilation of information on the historic drinking water issue and links to other sites with related information
In addition, the Marine Corps has worked with the Internal Revenue Service to locate former Marines who have lived or worked on Camp Lejeune 1987 and before. The
More than 133,000 names are currently in the Registry. The Marine Corps continues the outreach response in order to contact as many individuals who have been affected as possible. Upon completion of the studies by the National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), registrants will receive summaries of the research results. NRC is scheduled for release in late May or early June 2009. ATSDR is scheduled for release in late 2011.
ATSDR research can be found at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/update.html
NRC’s Camp Lejeune Project link is: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/ProjectView.aspx?key=BEST-K-06-08-A
The Marine Corps’ goal is to consolidate all pertinent documents in one location to expedite response to requests from other agencies and multiple searches have been conducted for documents that may relate to the drinking water issue. To further ensure that the most comprehensive document search has been conducted, the Marine Corps hired a contractor to conduct a search of the entire Base. The contractor developed a search criteria designed to identify documents related to the water contamination issue and then conducted a search of the entire Base. Both ATSDR and the GAO have full access to documents retrieved in this search.
How did Marine Corps leadership assess and review the actions taken in response to learning of the contaminants?
In 2004, the Commandant convened a panel of independent experts to determine whether officials at the base acted properly in decisions made concerning the drinking water. In its report, “Drinking Water Fact-Finding Panel,” dated
The EPA Criminal Investigative Division and the US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina conducted a joint 3-year investigation into whether there was any criminal misconduct before the wells were taken out of service or afterwards when records were being requested. They concluded that there had been no violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act, no conspiracy to withhold information, falsify data, or conceal evidence regarding violation of any law. The Panel Report is available to the public. The U.S. Attorney’s office issued a Declination to Prosecute Statement in August 2005.
No additional wells have been taken out of service since 1985.
One of 10 closed wells, TT-23, was used one day in March 1985 and three days in April 1985 to meet water needs at Tarawa Terrace. This well was used with sampling and oversight provided by the State of
Several agencies have conducted independent assessments of the water contamination issue at
A committee of the National Research Council reviewed the scientific evidence on associations between adverse health effects and historical data on prenatal, childhood, and adult exposures to contaminated drinking water at
The Camp Lejeune Project link is: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/ProjectView.aspx?key=BEST-K-06-08-A
The NRC study was released
The National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2005 required GAO to report on past drinking water contamination and related health effects at
GAO reviewed documents, interviewed officials and former residents, and contracted with the National Academy of Sciences to convene an expert panel to assess the design of the current ATSDR study. GAO obtained and reviewed more than 1,600 documents related to past and current drinking water activities at
The documents reviewed were obtained from Headquarters Marine Corps and had been collected and organized by a contractor for the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ Drinking Water Fact-Finding Panel for
The source of the chemical contamination was the groundwater that moved into the wells. Further studies determined that historical on-base disposal practices and off-base dry cleaning operations were leaking volatile organic compounds into the ground eventually contaminating water wells on base.
In 1989, the off-base dry cleaning operation, ABC Cleaners, was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Priority List for environmental cleanup. The EPA continues to clean up the groundwater impacted by the dry cleaning operations. In support of the clean up efforts, the Marine Corps has reserved a location on the Base for EPA to operate their clean up system.
For more information, please visit the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/region4/waste/npl/nplnc/abc1hrnc.htm
Historical on-base disposal practices at various locations on Base also contributed to contamination in the Hadnot Point area. The Marine Corps is working with EPA and the State of
Materials with TCE and PCE are used in various industries and businesses, and are still used on
At this time, ATSDR is conducting a study to determine if certain illnesses are linked to exposure to contaminated drinking water. We await the results from the ATSDR study, expected to be complete in late 2011.The Marine Corps cares about the health and welfare of our family. We encourage you to contact your local or family physician regarding any questions about your family’s health. You may also contact ATSDR’s toll free line at 888-422-8737 for further information.
Please send written requests to:
Military Personnel Records
At this time, two lawsuits related to past drinking water quality at
The Federal Tort Claims Act provides a system for submitting claims alleging personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death. The requirements and procedures for filing these claims are published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 32 C.F.R. § 750. These regulations may be accessed on the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html
The claims packet from the Department of the Navy, Office of the Judge Advocate General, can be accessed at: http://www.jag.navy.mil/organization/documents/CampLejeuneClaimsPacket.pdf
Please contact the Department of the Navy Office of the Judge Advocate General:
Department of the Navy
Office of the Judge Advocate General
Washington Navy Yard, Bldg
ATTN: Camp Lejeune Claim
The Marine Corps encourages individuals to contact their local or family physician regarding questions about their health, or they may also contact ATSDR’s toll free line at (888) 422-8737 for further information. Former active duty service members seeking medical care or a disability rating for their own illness or injury they feel is the result of exposure to the water at