A new bill that would provide medical care to veterans and families, who have suffered injuries as a result of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeun Marine Corps Base in North Carolina, has been approved.
Under the bill, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs will provide medical care for the treatment of veterans who served on the base in any capacity. However, veterans will be required to prove a link between their condition and the water contamination. The bill would provide for medical care for veterans, and in some cases, even their families who developed illnesses as a result of the contaminated water. The bill would initially provide for about $600 million to be paid out in medical benefits over a period of 10 years.
The Marines who will benefit from the bill, were posted at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina. They sustained illnesses after they were exposed to water that had been contaminated with organic compounds, including perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene. The perchloroethylene came from a cleaning service off base, while the trichloroethylene came from a number of sources, including industrial spills, waste disposal sites and storage tanks. Between 1957 and 1987, there were two water treatment facilities at the base that were contaminated with these compounds.
The full extent of the illnesses from the contaminated water is not yet known. The HHS Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Department of Veterans Affairs are currently investigating the effect of the water on the Marines. Family members' illnesses are also being investigated.
The contaminated water is already believed to have resulted in a number of conditions and illnesses, including cleft lip and cleft palate. The water has also been linked to a number of cancers, including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and childhood leukemia. There have also been cases of spina bifida and anencephaly reported at the base.
Under the bill, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs will provide medical care for the treatment of veterans who served on the base in any capacity. However, veterans will be required to prove a link between their condition and the water contamination.