Veterans affected by contaminated drinking water at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune could soon get some relief after decades of fighting for their right to compensation. An official document published via the Federal Register on January 12 announced the Obama administration will provide disability benefits to exposed veterans who served at the Marine Corps base.
Around $2.2 billion will be paid to former service members who have developed one of eight medical conditions. Eligible diseases include liver cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, adult leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, aplastic lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Veterans who spent at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987 are eligible for the benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimated that nearly 900,000 veterans may have been exposed to the contaminated water. Payments will begin in March and be made over five years.
The government made the decision after VA Secretary Robert McDonald found that “sufficient scientific and medical evidence” points to an association between health problems and time spent on the base. Veterans advocacy groups discovered documents that confirmed the presence of tainted drinking water in the early 1980s. The water was contaminated with volatile organic compounds such as vinyl chloride and benzene.