Lawsuit History

Timeline for
Camp Lejeune

The timeline for the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit is quite lengthy. The base was established in 1941 and has been the home of millions of service people and their families since its opening. Many of those people have been exposed to toxic chemicals in the drinking water. The fight for justice to those affected continues today with Krause & Kinsman joining the timeline.

The Timeline


Congress approved the use of funds to construct Camp Lejeune on April 5, 1941. The base was established for the Marine Corps in Onslow County, North Carolina. Camp Lejeune was named for Major General John A. Lejeune, who had been a Commander of the 2nd Army Division in World War I. The base served as a training area for Marines in combat.


In 1942, the Hadnot Point Water Treatment Plant was established. It would provide water to specific areas of Camp Lejeune. The water would be in use along Hadnot Point and Holcomb Boulevard, which included the homes of residents of the camp.


In January of this year, the US Naval Hospital would add four more wards. With the war ending, by August of this year demobilization causes a dramatic reduction in population. Between 1944 and May of 1946, the population dropped by 30,000.


Due to the anticipation of more Marines returning to the US from the Pacific, Camp Lejeune was granted more funding. 

The money was used to expand the facilities, including creating new facilities for lifestyle and recreation. The Division of Reserve was revived late in the year by the Headquarters Marine Corps. The Fleet Marine Force Atlantic was activated at Camp Lejeune on December 16, 1946. The division would continue dropping in size until the Korean War began in 1950.


Camp Lejeune was the primary location for training reserves during the summer of 1947.



New housing becomes necessary with the mobilization from the Korean War. Construction started on the Tarawa Terrace I on June 20. This residential facility would have 1054 units.


A second facility, named Tarawa Terrace II, was built in 1952. A shopping center is constructed, along with a gas station, supermarket, and post office. Along Lejeune Boulevard, three wells were dug, which were located down gradient from the newly built gas station and a dry cleaner. No sewers would be built until in the 1970s. The New River Shopping Center opened on December 3, as the commercial hub for Jacksonville.


Just two miles to the southeast of Camp Lejeune, ABC One Hour Dry Cleaner opened at 2127 Lejeune Blvd. The owner began dumping waste water across the street from the well fields of Tarawa Terrace and uphill through a septic system located on-site. This same year, the Tarawa Terrace Elementary School opened. 


H.E. Legrand, a consultant who was hired to evaluate water resources, made a report on October 23 that the wells located at Tarawa Terrace, Hadnot Point, and Montford Point were built on thin shellrock. This design could permit contaminants to penetrate the exterior into the aquifer. His recommendation is for it to be inspected frequently and for repairs to be made. 


The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery from the Department of the Navy developed and issued the first standards for potable water. During the same year, the base opened the first hazardous waste dump.


In August, the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery issued the Navmed P-5010-5, which also included updated standards for potable water. They were known as BUMED 6240.3B. Structural defect in the water supply system was named as an example of the definition of a health hazard. The regulations ban harmful substances in water and take effect immediately at the camp.


The rifle range at Camp Lejeune was used on a regular basis for disposal of chemicals. The camp would begin monitoring for contaminants in accordance with state and federal standards. However, dumping and burying contaminants were standard practices during this decade. 


The well known as HP-651 became operational and served Hadnot Point in July. It was located adjacent to a junkyard and was the main supply well in the area to be contaminated. It would remain in service until February of 1985. BUMED 6240-3A was cancelled with updated instructions in 3C. This updated standard considered the presence of chlorinated hydrocarbons as grounds to be rejected.


The Commanding General of Camp Lejeune issued Base Order 5100.13b, which provided a description of safe procedures for disposal of hazardous waste or contaminants. Organic solvents are labeled hazardous with this order. It also stated that improper disposal could lead to contamination of the drinking water. The order wasn’t followed even though it was clearly stated, according to the testimony heard in hearings later. Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act, which was intended to ensure that drinking water was safe in the United States.


The Safe Drinking Water Act required daily testing for chemicals and bacteria in the water, based on the interpretation of North Carolina potable water laws. The base was informed of the daily tests by the North Carolina Division of Water Resources on May 8, 1978 in a meeting at Camp Lejeune. Coliform bacteria were found in the water system of Courthouse Bay, according to Naval Facilities Engineering Command. The water discharge levels and a rapid increase in sewage was deemed to be at fault for the bacteria. 


Fuel leaked out of an underground valve of the Hadnot Point Fuel Farm, which had been built right after the base opened. It was located just 1200 feet from potable water. It was estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 gallons of fuel were leaked out. 

Contamination was reported at military bases in Pennsylvania, evidenced by samples of station supply wells. These samples included the presence of PCE and TCE. The wells had to be taken out of the system because remediation efforts did not have success.

It was during this year that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cited Camp Lejeune as a polluter. The camp was found to be noncompliant in various areas, including with the requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

A study was conducted by Henry Von Oesen & Associates which found serious problem with operations, which included the inability to properly manage the water treatment. The study recommended that the Montford Point and Tarawa Terrace Water Treatment Plants be demolished.

An Environmental Engineering Survey found multiple problems at Camp Lejeune. The survey was prepared for the Utilities, Energy and Environmental Divisions. Issues included incomplete required analysis for inorganic chemicals, personnel shortages, maintenance problems, no chemist or EPA certification for the quality control lab. The EPA published a Suggested No Adverse Reaction Level in November of no more than 75 parts per billion of TCE in the water supply system.


The Navy began the Naval Assessment and Control of Installation Pollutants program. The program was designed to identify toxicity of chemicals at Naval installations. A database was established by a total trihalomethanes (TTHM) surveillance program by the Navy Facilities engineering Command. 

The Jennings Laboratories and US Army Environmental Hygiene Agency were chosen to provide an analysis of water on the base for the presence of TTHMs.

The states are given primary responsibility for enforcing the Public Water System Supervision Program to the states. The NC Division of Water Resources becomes the enforcer for Camp Lejeune.

The FDA publishes Suggested Action Guidance for presence of tetrachloroethylene (PCE), which lists it as hazardous waste and is to be regulated as a hazardous air pollutant. Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, which created an Agency for Tox Substances and Disease Registry. The EPA also receives the power to seek out those responsible for the release of toxic chemicals and require cleanup.

Extensive testing begins for the drinking water at Camp Lejeune on October 21. Analysis begins for TTHMs and testing reveals that volatile organic compounds are present in the Hadnot Point water system.

A TTHM Surveillance Report is produced by the USAEHA’s laboratory services n October 31. The report stated that the water was highly contaminated with halogenated hydrocarbons. Testing detected eleven VOCs, which included TCE. The report is sent to officials with the Navy, but no action follows the report. 


The USAEHA recommended that analysis be done for chlorinated organics on January 22. More data is collected in February and March and analyzed, which resulted in additional warnings on contamination. 

Strong interference was recognized in tests on March 9 by chemicals that weren’t identified. It was noted that Hadnot Point water was highly contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons. April 7 was the date that VOCs were detected in samples from the water at the Rifle Range. Specifically, TCE and PCE were found on April 16. The Base Commander was notified of the contamination. The Commanding General of Camp Lejeune, Major General Cooper advised that the water system of Rifle Range met the current standards.


Water & Air Research of Gainesville, Florida was hired by the Navy in March to conduct an Initial Assessment Study. The study was supposed to identify any water contamination. The investigation included review of 73 waste disposal sites. The sites were on the Base and three other sites in Jones County. 

The study found that 22 of 76 sites required more investigation. During the investigation, contaminants were identified, which included explosives, fuel, pesticides, and cancer-causing solvents.

A possible health threat was noted on March 28, affecting children at a daycare facility. Building 712 had been converted from a storage facility for pesticides to a nursery and day care in the 1960s. Chlorine insecticides were found in the soil around the building.

The presence of PCE and TCE had been detected in the water systems of Hadnot Point, with PCE found at Tarawa Terrace. The staff from Granger Laboratory notified laboratory staff of Camp Lejeune on March 6 of the findings. On April 19, monthly samples began to be collected to monitor for TTHM by the two labs. May 6, the staff of Granger Laboratory reports the presence of the chemicals at the same two water systems again. In August, Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace tested positive for high concentrations of TCE and PCE. On August 10, the report was sent by letter to the Base Commander, indicating that the well fields were the source for the contaminated water. Later that same month, on August 18, monitoring for TTHMs decreased from monthly to quarterly. On August 19, the Supervisory Chemist in the Quality Control Lab for the camp, Elizabeth A. Betz, admitted that she had read the letter and that the two chemicals are present even though they aren’t regulated by the Safe Water Drinking Act. She also admitted that these chemicals are harmful to humans and may cause damage to the kidney, liver, and central nervous system.


The Base submitted a report to the EPA but failed to mention contamination of water or VOCs. Granger notified the state of North Carolina of contamination on Camp Lejeune after giving repeated warnings. Officials at the Base terminated Granger and refused to submit results of tests. 


LANTDIV did a Naval Assessment and Control of Installation
Pollutants (NACIP) Confirmation Study in July. Wells were tested as part of the study. Environmental Science and Engineering Inc, conducted testing on July 6
at Hadnot Point. 

The tests showed that benzene existed at levels far above what

was allowed at the EPA. The levels showed 380 parts per billion. Other VOCs
were detected, including PCE, TCE, vinyl chloride, and methylene chloride. Well
602 was shut down in November, which was located near Hadnot Point. Two more
wells were found to have high concentrations of TCE and were closed in November
and December. Ten wells were shut down with VOC contamination.

Major General LH Buehl mentioned that 10 wells were found to contain contaminants and
had been shut down. The Marines would later state that this was adequate notice


More testing was done in February, and on the 4th,
TCE was found to be present in the water system at 1148 parts per billion. 

Dichloroethylene was as high as 406 parts per billion. This water system
supplied water to the Berkeley Manor Elementary School of Camp Lejeune. PCE
level was at 215 parts per billion. One well supplied water to consumers at the
camp with 18,900 parts per billion of TCE, 655 parts per billion of vinyl
chloride and the presence of other chemicals. Well HP-651 was closed in
February. It was located at Hadnot Point.

J. Fred Hill from the NC Water Supply Branch visited the
camp on May 1. A letter dated the 13th included advice by Hill to
analyze samples for VOC contamination before building new wells. A Navy study
found VOCs in ten wells according a report released on May 10. The Wilmington
Morning Star noted the presence of toxic chemicals and closings of the wells on
May 11. The Regional Hydrologist for North Carolina notified the base commander
that organic contaminants were found in ten wells and placed a call for action
to remediate.

The Marines commission a study of 22 sites around the base
for 15 months, including those that were either known or suspected to be
hazardous waste sites. It was reported that the sites weren’t deemed to be
dangerous because the levels of contamination or low with limited exposure to
the toxins. 

A reported published an investigation of the waste dumps at the camp in the Raleigh News & Observer. The EPA believes that Camp Lejeune should be added to the National Priority List.


The EPA publishes new rules about maximum levels of contamination for VOCs. They begin to be more active in monitoring toxic substances in water and in developing programs to better regulate the levels. 


The Navy issues a require for a ATSDR health assessment for Camp Lejeune.


Camp Lejeune is placed on the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act National Priorities List. 


The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry determines that the main contaminant to be concerned about it PCE in the Tarawa Terrace water system. 


The EPA and the Navy along with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to facilitate cleanup of the contaminants. It would include the immediate cleanup activities along with continuing reviews. 


The ATSDR released its Initial Release of the Camp Lejeune assessment. The agency also writes a letter to the Marine Corps on limited access to records and lack of cooperation. Numerous documents were not provided when requested. 


The final version of the Public Health Assessment was released by ATSDR for Camp Lejeune, which recognized three hazards to public health through exposure to VOCs in tap water. Pesticides were found in the soil, VOCs in drinking water, and lead in tap water. Benzene contamination was listed only minimally even though reports of high levels had been found in wells. The report recommended a health study to determine risk to children based on exposure during pregnancy.


ATSDR conducts a study of children’s health who were born from 1968 to 1985 who had been exposed to contaminates while their mothers were pregnant. The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2001.


ATSDR conducts a survey for the parents whose children were in utero between 1968 and 1985 at Camp Lejeune. The survey identified 106 children with conditions, including childhood cancer and birth defects.


ARSDR reconstructs the data from Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point to find VOC contamination. At the same time, the Marine Corps built a Drinking Water Fact Finding Panel, which showed that former residents had not be adequately informed about the contamination. 


In February an expert panel is convened by ARSDR to determine if additional studies are needed on the health of people who were exposed to the drinking water at the camp. The agency implements recommendations made by the expert panel. 

The Office of Inspector General for the EPA received complaints about the response to requests for the Freedom of Information Act. It was determined that the requests weren’t handled appropriately. ATSDR began its study into Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds in Drinking Water and Specific Birth Defects and Childhood Cancers. 


A Community Assistance Panel meeting is set up with ATSDR, the community, and non-government experts. 


Analysis of the water treatment plant at Tarawa Terrace found that residents received drinking water with contamination of PCE above the maximum level of the EPA between November 1957 and February 1987. 

The US Government Accountability Office provided information to Congress about the efforts to address contamination at the camp along with discover of the toxins. It declared that officials at Camp Lejeune failed to take the correct measures to deal with the contamination.  


President George W Bush signed the National Defense Authorization Act in January. 

This act included a requirement that the Navy work with ATSDR on a health survey for people who may have been exposed to the toxic drinking water at the camp. The Marines attempted to downplay the contamination, stating it had been caused by an off-base dry cleaner. 


ATSDR discovered contamination of the Holcomb Boulevard water distribution system of VOCs. It also recognized that the presence of benzene in the water was consequential, which moved this information from the appendix to the body of the report.

S. 1518 Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2009 was introduced to the Senate. This bill required the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide health care to former service members and their families who had been exposed to contaminated drinking water and suffered specific health conditions. The bill did not pass. 


ATSDR begins another study, this one on the mortality and causes of death for military and civilian personnel who had lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between the 1970s and 1980s. The Janey Ensminger Act was introduced to Congress on February 2, providing every veteran stationed at Camp Lejeune eligible for care through the VA.  

ATSDR provides a report showing that multiple VOCs were present in the groundwater at Hadnot-Point-Holcomb Boulevard. A hearing is convened by the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology. The goal of the hearing was to examine the toxicity of Camp Lejeune.


Cases against Camp Lejeune were consolidated on February 4 with the US District Court, Georgia Northern District. The government moved to dismiss all claims made. 


The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 passed and allowed veterans who served for at least 30 days sometime between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1987, eligible for care for medical services with the VA. The bill included 15 cancers and other illnesses and conditions. The US Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss pending lawsuits. ATSDR releases another report with information on the different layers of soil and groundwater at Camp Lejeune.



Another report from ATSDR was released, showing that drinking water from the Hadnot Point treatment plant contained excessive levels of VOCs between August 1953 and January 1985. This same year, ATSDR begins another study, this one into the birth defects and childhood cancers of children who had maternal exposure at Camp Lejeune. 


ATSDR created a new study on mortality of Marine and Naval personnel to determine if the exposure to contaminants increased the risk of death. In August, the Civilian Mortality Study was released, which showed that risk for mortality was higher for certain types of cancers and other diseases. The Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against claimants in October, based on the North Carolina statute of repose which applied to the claims of the plaintiffs.


ATSDR conducts a Male Breast Cancer Study to determine if exposure to contaminated water increased the risk for male breast cancer.



ATSDR starts its Cancer Incidence Study and released the findings of its Public Health Assessment, which detailed exposure to VOCs at the camp. 


ATSDR published its report on Assessment of the Evidence for the Drinking Water Contaminants at Camp Lejeune and Specific Cancers and Other Diseases in January. 

The conclusion was that residents faced elevated risks for various cancers compared to others who had not been exposed. 


Nearly 4400 Federal Tort Claims Act claims have been filed by January 25 for personal injury or wrongful death due to exposure from contaminants at Camp Lejeune. The US Department of Navy denied all of the claims. 



An appeal was made for the mass tort.


March 23, the Toxic Exposure in the American Military Act was introduced to the Senate. It would expand health care for veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 was introduced. 



On March 4, the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022 pass the US House of Representatives. This bill includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. The Senate passes a related bill on March 24, which now must be passed in the House. After that point, it will go to the President for his signature.