After months of legal battles, a long-awaited study conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) on the increased risk of cancer from Camp Lejeune’s water contamination was finally released on January 29, 2024.
The study was completed in April 2023 — but has remained hidden from the public since. In December 2023, a judge blocked the unreleased report from being used in ongoing Camp Lejeune litigation, forcing lawyers and victims to fight for its use as evidence.
Now that it’s been made available to the public, the report connects even more conditions to the water contamination that occurred between 1953 and 1987 and provides families with even more crucial evidence connecting their health issues to Camp Lejeune.
Compensation may be available for families harmed by the toxic water — but only if your claim is filed before the August 2024 deadline.
What's in the Camp Lejeune Report?
Many people who spent time at Camp Lejeune are suffering from serious illnesses decades later. The newly released ATSDR study may finally help them connect their health issues to their time at Camp Lejeune and empower them to seek justice.
The study compared cancer rates between 1972 and 1985 at Camp Lejeune to those at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California, findings are seen as some of the most substantial evidence yet that the water contamination directly caused these cancers.
Former National Cancer Institute epidemiologist Kenneth Cantor found it a “ground-breaking” report that significantly increased the known number of cancers linked to the base's contaminated water.
By examining the health records of over 160,000 veterans and civilians from Camp Lejeune, they found for every 100,000 records, 354 veterans and 1,301 civilians who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune were diagnosed with cancer.
The data revealed veterans and civilians at Camp Lejeune had a 20% higher risk of developing certain cancers and health conditions that weren’t previously connected to the water contamination, including:
- Blood disorders like myelodysplastic and myeloproliferative
- Esophageal cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Myeloid cancers, including polycythemia vera
- Oral cancer
- Soft tissue cancers, which develop in muscles, tendons, and fat
- Squamous cell lung cancer, which forms in the lining of the airways
- Thyroid cancer
- Male and female breast cancer
Michael Partain, who lived at Camp Lejeune as a child and later developed male breast cancer, has also been vocal about the delay in releasing the report, suggesting that the slow progress aided the government in avoiding liability.
“This is yet more evidence that the water at Camp Lejeune affected our health,” Partain said. “And this is just another big piece of that puzzle. It does draw a line to say, ‘Hey, these people were impacted, and they need to be taken care of.’”
At Sokolove Law, we can handle every step of the legal process on your behalf if you have a case. Call (800) 995-1212 now to get started for free.
Historical Context and Legal Implications
It took decades of advocacy for those exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune to get answers for their health, and even then, many conditions were left excluded from receiving benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or other compensation options.
After the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 passed, civilian workers, veterans, and their families could finally seek compensation for injuries caused by the base's contaminated water. However, many families have continued to face delays in getting justice.
The Department of Justice sought to fast-track payouts through the Camp Lejeune Elective Option, but they only recognized 9 health conditions:
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Kidney disease
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Systemic sclerosis or scleroderma
Jonathan Cardi, a Wake Forest University School of Law professor specializing in environmental tort cases, noted that the study's findings could have significant legal implications and may encourage more plaintiffs to sue the U.S. government — even if they anticipate a long wait for justice.
With the ATSDR Camp Lejeune report identifying more health conditions linked to the water, more victims and their families may qualify for compensation from legal claims.
The Fight to Release the Camp Lejeune Report
Late last year, Camp Lejeune lawyers urged the judges overseeing these cases to force the government to release the results of the study.
However, one judge blocked the effort in December 2023, ruling that the report couldn’t be used as evidence in litigation. Victims filed an appeal in early January 2024 that put enough pressure on the ATSDR to release the report.
The fact that the study’s groundbreaking revelations remained hidden from the public raised concerns about withholding information and angered Camp Lejeune victims and their families.
Chris Carberg is the son of USMC John Carberg, who passed away from bladder cancer in 2018. In the fight for justice at Camp Lejeune, he’s become an outspoken veterans advocate.
Carberg spoke exclusively with Sokolove Law about how he believes the government's delay intentionally prevented veterans and their families from taking necessary action.
“This report could help victims educate themselves on how to take action, as some veterans are still struggling to come to terms with the fact that contamination actually occurred,” Carberg clarified. “The government dragged its feet in publishing the study to try and run out the clock on our veterans, and it's disgusting."
ATSDR Director Dr. Aaron Bernstein said that suggesting that the ATSDR sat on the report, however, is a mischaracterization.
“Our purpose…is to ensure that we’re doing the best possible science,” Bernstein said after releasing the study.
This fight is just one of the many ways lawyers are working to support victims and their families. Get the latest Camp Lejeune litigation updates now.
The Camp Lejeune Study’s Frustrating Timeline
The study's author Frank Bove began researching the contaminated water in 2015. Even with over 30 years of experience and 20 studies published with the ATSDR, he was upset by the delays in publishing this report.
"I've been frustrated by the process," Bove stated in October 2023 at a meeting of Camp Lejeune's Community Assistance Panel.
After completing a peer review in April 2023, the ATSDR initiated a statistical review in June. After additional reviews from peers and offices within the ATSDR, the study has now been submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
“We were scared that this study was going to kind of languish…until after all the litigation took place,” said Partain. “So this should help out the families quite a bit.”
Understanding the Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
Over 1 Million individuals may have been affected during the contamination period from August 1953 to December 1987, and now they can take legal action. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that over $21 Billion may be paid out in these lawsuits.
More than $2 Million has already been paid out to families through the Camp Lejeune Elective Option, which awards a fixed amount of compensation for certain conditions at a quicker rate.
Learn more about the Camp Lejeune payout timeline and how soon you can expect compensation.
Implications for Veterans and Their Families
The results of this study and the ongoing legal battles could bring about a breakthrough in addressing the health problems and injustices faced by thousands of veterans and civilians who were exposed to the contaminated water at the base.
Even if your loved one passed away from an illness from being on base, you may still be able to seek justice and compensation on their behalf.
It's important to understand that filing a lawsuit won't affect VA benefits for Camp Lejeune. Claimants may be eligible for compensation from both the lawsuit and VA benefits.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 allows individuals injured by water contamination on base to pursue compensation — but only until August 10, 2024.
If you haven’t filed a Camp Lejeune claim yet, contact our team as soon as possible.
Sokolove Law: Over 40 Years of Fighting for Veterans & Their Families
This new report is a breakthrough for those affected by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune. If you or a loved one developed a serious illness after spending time at Camp Lejeune, Sokolove Law may be able to help you seek justice.
For over 40 years, we’ve fought hard to get veterans and their families the results they need, recovering more than $9.1 Billion total for clients across the country.
We have VA-accredited attorneys on staff and have already helped over 30,000 Camp Lejeune families with their water contamination claims.
There are no hourly fees or out-of-pocket costs to work with our Camp Lejeune lawyers, so there’s no financial risk to taking legal action.