From 1953 to 1987, the water at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was contaminated with dangerous chemicals. In addition to the toxic water, veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune may have also been exposed to asbestos during service on base.
Asbestos is a mineral that was used in thousands of products during the 20th century, including the construction materials used to build U.S. military bases. Ships, vehicles, and aircraft at Camp Lejeune also contained asbestos.
Exposure to asbestos can cause serious diseases like mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer. Veterans make up about 33% of all mesothelioma diagnoses each year.
Camp Lejeune veterans with mesothelioma do not have to suffer alone. They may be able to access support from several options, including VA benefits and compensation from legal claims.
For over 40 years, Sokolove Law has been an advocate for veterans with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Learn how we may be able to help you during a free case review.
The History of Asbestos Usage at Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune was first established in 1941, a time when asbestos was still widely used. The U.S. military relied on asbestos due to its fire-resistant properties and durability, making it an integral part of many military buildings and vehicles.
Over the years, Camp Lejeune rapidly expanded to include additional housing, aircraft hangers, and training facilities. Unfortunately, the construction that took place on base caused asbestos fibers to become airborne as building materials were cut, sanded, and sawed.
In addition to working on construction, U.S. Marines at Camp Lejeune may have performed maintenance on vehicles and machinery that were made with asbestos-containing parts.
The extensive use of asbestos at Camp Lejeune put anyone who lived or worked on base as well as their loved ones at risk of exposure, causing some veterans to develop mesothelioma decades after their service.
Camp Lejeune & Asbestos Uses on Base
As tens of thousands of U.S. Marines arrived at Camp Lejeune to begin their military training, products that contained asbestos were all around them.
Asbestos at Camp Lejeune could be found in:
- Flooring, ceiling, and roofing tiles, which were used in buildings for their affordability, fireproof qualities, and durability
- Insulation and sealants, which were applied to pipes, boilers, air ducts, vents, windows, and more to maintain temperature
- Textured surfacing, which was used for fireproofing and soundproofing on walls, ceilings, and other building components
In addition to these construction materials, many military aircraft, vehicles, and harbored U.S. Navy ships also contained asbestos.
Brake pads, engines, transmission plates, gaskets, and heat-resistant seals are just a few of the aircraft and vehicle parts at Camp Lejeune that put U.S. Marines at risk of asbestos exposure.
Both U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps personnel also took part in amphibious assault training at Camp Lejeune, as the swampy terrain on base provided an ideal location for exercises that took place between water and land.
Asbestos was considered the perfect material for insulating assault amphibious vehicles (AAV) because they needed to be light, fireproof, and sealed to keep water from entering.
Asbestos Exposure & Camp Lejeune Mesothelioma Risks
Asbestos-containing products are designed to withstand wear and tear, but even with routine usage, these products eventually break down and release microscopic fibers into the air.
When this happened at Camp Lejeune, military personnel could unknowingly inhale or ingest these fibers — and even a single fiber can cause asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma or lung cancer to develop.
Since symptoms of mesothelioma can take 20-50 years to show, many Camp Lejeune veterans who served decades ago may still be at risk of developing this deadly cancer to this day.
Common symptoms of mesothelioma, like chest pain, a persistent cough, and unexplained weight loss, are often mistaken for less severe conditions like the common cold, making it difficult for veterans to get an accurate and timely diagnosis.
Unfortunately, veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune are not the only ones at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Service members who worked with asbestos-containing materials may have unknowingly carried microscopic fibers home from work on their clothing or in their hair, putting family members at risk. This is known as secondhand asbestos exposure.
By the 1980s, the dangers of asbestos became widely known. It was revealed that many companies that sold asbestos-containing products knew about the dangers of this mineral, but they hid the truth from the U.S. military and the general public to protect their profits.
After this, the military began efforts to remove asbestos products from buildings, vessels, and machinery at Camp Lejeune and other bases across the country.
Efforts to Remove Asbestos from Camp Lejeune
Asbestos abatement — the process of removing or securing asbestos fibers — became a priority at Camp Lejeune during the tail end of the 20th century.
Despite initial abatement efforts, asbestos has lingered in some Camp Lejeune buildings and equipment — including in military housing.
In 2005, photos were taken of on-base housing that showed asbestos-containing materials in family homes. Asbestos was also found in an administration building’s cement paneling, flooring adhesive residue, and roof sealing material back in 2006.
While abatement efforts have continued, a significant amount of asbestos debris remains on base. More than 700 square feet of asbestos-containing floor tiles, roofing materials, and pipe sealants were found in a Camp Lejeune equipment shop in 2018.
In 2019, the Lejeune Asbestos Program Plan (LAPP) was released to limit exposure to asbestos-containing materials (ACM) at installation buildings, serving as a supplement to the existing state and federal policies on asbestos abatement.
The LAPP required that:
- All employees assigned to asbestos removal must participate in regular safety training to limit their exposure to asbestos fibers and decrease the spread of fibers during the removal process
- All asbestos removal was to be done under the guidance of trained professionals
Some asbestos-containing materials at Camp Lejeune were deemed non-threatening, and efforts were not made to remove them from base.
One aircraft hangar on base had cement paneling and gaskets that contained asbestos until 2021, when it was finally renovated.
As older products containing asbestos begin to naturally break down, the issue of asbestos at Camp Lejeune continues, potentially contributing to future cases of mesothelioma.
Legal Options for Camp Lejeune Veterans & Family Members
For Camp Lejeune veterans and their family members who have been affected by either asbestos exposure or the contaminated water on base, legal options can help pay for medical bills, lost wages, and more.
Camp Lejeune Asbestos & Mesothelioma Claims
Veterans with mesothelioma may be able to receive over $1 Million in compensation, thanks to multiple compensation options available to them.
Camp Lejeune mesothelioma compensation options include:
- Camp Lejeune Mesothelioma Lawsuits: Filing a lawsuit against the makers of asbestos-containing products can hold companies accountable and provide meaningful compensation to families.
- Asbestos Trust Funds: Companies that made asbestos-containing products and later declared bankruptcy were required to set money aside in trusts to pay those harmed by their products. An estimated $30 Billion is still available in asbestos trusts today.
- Mesothelioma VA Benefits: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers health care and monthly disability payments. Mesothelioma has a 100% disability rating, qualifying for over $3,600 each month.
Depending on the asbestos-containing products Camp Lejeune veterans were exposed to, our experienced mesothelioma lawyers may be able to pursue compensation from each of these sources to maximize potential payouts.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we’re prepared to fight for justice and compensation on your behalf. Get started today with a free case review.
Lawsuits for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
While asbestos is not related to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, veterans and their families are now able to pursue compensation for health issues caused by the toxic water on base thanks to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.
The toxic water at Camp Lejeune has been linked to a variety of serious health issues, including:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Aplastic anemia
- Birth defects
- Bladder cancer
- Brain cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cardiac defects
- Cervical cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Crohn’s disease
- Esophageal cancer
- Fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis)
- Female infertility
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Renal toxicity
The U.S. government has estimated that over $21 Billion will be paid out in Camp Lejeune settlements total over the next several years.
Filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit will not affect your current or future VA benefits. Even if you lost a loved one decades ago from a Camp Lejeune-related illness, you may still be able to take legal action.
Get Help Filing Camp Lejeune Mesothelioma & Water Contamination Claims
While the past year has been critical for Camp Lejeune veterans seeking justice for illnesses from the contaminated water, we must also raise awareness about the risks of asbestos exposure at Camp Lejeune.
Since 1979, Sokolove Law has helped thousands of veterans and their families get justice for illnesses caused by toxic exposures, recovering over $9.1 Billion total for clients nationwide.
Our lawyers have helped:
- Over 8,300 families with mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases
- More than 30,000 families impacted by Camp Lejeune water contamination