Camp Lejeune Today


The human suffering caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has been all over the news. So, it might be surprising to learn that the large Marine Corps base was not closed after it became public that approximately one million people were exposed to dangerous toxins while working and living there between 1953 and 1987. This exposure made them more susceptible to serious and life-threatening illnesses.

Despite having been designated a Superfund site by the government, there are still approximately 38,000 active-duty military members, another 38,000 family members, 18,000 retirees and family members, and 3,300 civilians at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina today. The 156,000-acre facility continues to train soldiers to be combat-ready for military and humanitarian missions overseas.

What Is a Superfund Site?

Toxic waste sites and the risks to human health and the environment came into focus in the late 1970s with the high-profile disasters at Love Canal in Niagara, New York, and Valley of the Drums in Brooks, Kentucky.

Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) in 1980, which is commonly referred to as the Superfund act. The legislation forces polluters to clean up sites they contaminated or reimburse the government if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does the remediation.

What Was Done to Make It “Safe”

After its investigation, the EPA put Camp Lejeune on its Superfund National Priorities List on October 4, 1989. The EPA, Navy, and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) developed a plan to clean up the site in 1991. The site cleanup was so complex, that it was divided into twenty-six individual “operable units”, each with its own investigation and remediation plan.

Here is a summary of some of the clean-up activities that took place at Camp Lejeune.


The Navy removed and disposed of contaminated soil, drums, above-ground and underground storage tanks, batteries, waste liquids, and dense non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL). The Navy also installed a groundwater treatment system and a bio-treatment cell for contaminated soil.


Areas containing DNAPL were treated, and an estimated 48,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds were removed from the soil. 

The remedies included institutional controls, groundwater monitoring, and use of oxidants to break down contaminants. The Navy placed institutional controls on portions of the site to prohibit certain risky activities, groundwater use, and non-industrial land uses in these areas.

Early 2010s

Less critical activities, and the installation of treatment systems and a multilayer cap with an impermeable layer, were completed at various locations around the camp.

Mid/late 2010s

A former surface dump was cleaned up. 


Three groundwater treatment systems were installed to remedy contamination by the dry-cleaning business. Additional studies were conducted of another fifty-one sites to ensure there was no further contamination that needed to be addressed. Pilot studies are ongoing to monitor and optimize groundwater treatment systems. Every five years, a review of the cleanup is done by the Navy, EPA, and NCDEQ.

In Sum

We all need clean and reliable water to survive. While the Marines knew something was wrong with the water, it wasn’t until 1991 that they knew the full extent of the problem—and it wasn’t until 2012 that they admitted responsibility for the contamination that put the men and women who protect our country at risk. By this time, most of those who were exposed had moved on.

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune has long-term impacts on those who lived and worked there. Some lost their health, lives, ability to work, and faith in the government. The toxins also disproportionately affected pregnant women and their unborn children, many of whom suffered congenital disabilities, fetal brain damage, childhood cancers, and premature death.

The effects of the water contamination are still felt by survivors and will continue to be for generations. If you or a loved one suffered as a result of your time at Camp Lejeune, contact Strom Law to see if you are entitled to compensation for the physical or psychological damage caused by the government’s negligence.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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