|Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune|
|Near Jacksonville, North Carolina in the United States|
MCB Camp Lejeune
Location in the United States
|Type||Marine Corps base|
|Owner||Department of Defense|
|Operator||US Marine Corps|
|Controlled by||Marine Corps Installations East|
|In use||1941 – present|
|Brigadier General Andrew M. Niebel|
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune (//) is a 246-square-mile (640 km2) United States military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Its 14 miles (23 km) of beaches make the base a major area for amphibious assault training, and its location between two deep-water ports (Wilmington and Morehead City) allows for fast deployments. The main base is supplemented by six satellite facilities: Marine Corps Air Station New River, Camp Geiger, Stone Bay, Courthouse Bay, Camp Johnson, and the Greater Sandy Run Training Area. The Marine Corps port facility is in Beaufort, at the southern tip of Radio Island (between the NC State Port in Morehead City, and the marine science laboratories on Pivers Island in Beaufort). It is military property but is occupied only during military port operations.
Camp Lejeune encompasses 156,000 acres, with 11 miles of beach capable of supporting amphibious operations, 32 gun positions, 48 tactical landing zones, three state-of-the-art training facilities for Military Operations in Urban Terrain and 80 live fire ranges to include the Greater Sandy Run Training Area. Military forces from around the world come to Camp Lejeune on a regular basis for bilateral and NATO-sponsored exercises.
Resident commands at Camp Lejeune include:
In April 1941, construction was approved on an 11,000-acre (45 km2) tract in Onslow County, North Carolina. On May 1 of that year, Lt. Col. William P. T. Hill began construction on Marine Barracks New River. The first base headquarters was in a summer cottage on Montford Point and then moved to Hadnot Point in 1942. Later that year it was renamed in honor of the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, John A. Lejeune.
One of the satellite facilities of Camp Lejeune served for a while as a third boot camp for the Marines, in addition to Parris Island and San Diego. That facility, Montford Point, was established after Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802. Between 1942 and 1949, a brief era of segregated training for black Marines, the camp at Montford Point trained 20,000 African-Americans. After the military was ordered to fully integrate, Montford Point was renamed Camp Gilbert H. Johnson and became the home of the Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools.
On May 10, 1996, two helicopters performing a joint U.S-British training exercise collided and crashed into a swampy wooded area, killing fourteen and injuring two.
In mid-September 2018, Hurricane Florence damaged IT systems and over 900 buildings in the camp, leading to a $3.6 billion repair cost. 70% of base housing was damaged and 84,000 gallons of sewage was released.
From at least 1957 through 1987, Marines and their families at Lejeune drank and bathed in water contaminated with toxins at concentrations 240 to 3,400 times permitted by safety standards. A 1974 base order required safe disposal of solvents and warned that improper handling could cause drinking water contamination. Yet solvents were dumped or buried near base wells for years. The base's wells were shut off in the mid-1980s but were placed back online in violation of the law. In 1982, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found in Camp Lejeune's drinking water supply. VOC contamination of groundwater can cause birth defects and other ill health effects in pregnant and nursing mothers. This information was not made public for nearly two decades when the government attempted to identify those who may have been exposed.
An advocacy group called The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten was created to inform possible victims of the contamination at Lejeune. The group's website includes an introduction with some basic information about the contamination at Lejeune, including that many health problems various types of cancer, leukemia, miscarriages and birth defects, have been noted in people who drank the contaminated water. According to the site, numerous base housing areas were affected by the contamination, including Tarawa Terrace, Midway Park, Berkeley Manor, Paradise Point, Hadnot Point, Hospital Point, and Watkins Village. As many as 500,000 people may have been exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune over a period of 30 years."
At least 850 former residents filed claims for nearly $4 billion from the military. The multi-district litigation was dismissed on North Carolina statute of repose grounds on December 5, 2016, and the appeal to the 11th Circuit is ongoing (Straw, et. al. v. United States, 16-17573). A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2014 potentially curbs groundwater contamination lawsuits by families at Camp Lejeune. Federal law, which imposes a two-year statute of limitations after the harm is discovered, preempts North Carolina's 10-year statute of repose law. State lawmakers are trying to eliminate the state prohibition on lawsuits being filed 10 years after the last pollution occurred or from the time a polluted property was sold.
Straw has appealed this case to the U.S. Supreme Court twice, with one appeal currently pending in the Supreme Court docket. Disability activist Andrew U. D. Straw also pursued claims at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, stating that the U.S. Marine Corps' UCMJ responsibilities imply a contract to protect U.S. Marine Corps family members (Straw v. United States, 1:17-cv-00560, U.S. COFC). This case was dismissed and denied on appeal. Straw has advocated for legislative reform to avoid the legal arguments of the Department of Justice. The main chemicals involved were trichloroethylene (TCE, a degreaser), perchloroethylene (PCE, a dry cleaning solvent), and benzene; however, more than 70 chemicals have been identified as contaminants at Lejeune.
On March 8, 2010, Paul Buckley of Hanover, Massachusetts, received a 100%, service connected disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs for cancer (multiple myeloma), which was linked to toxic water exposure on Camp Lejeune. This is believed to be the first time the government has admitted the link between the contamination and illnesses.
In 2007, Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine master sergeant, found a document dated 1981 that described a radioactive dump site near a rifle range at the camp. According to the report, the waste was laced with strontium-90, an isotope known to cause cancer and leukemia. According to Camp Lejeune's installation restoration program manager, base officials learned about the document in 2004. Ensminger served in the Marine Corps for 24 and a half years, and lived for part of that time at Camp Lejeune. In 1985 his 9-year-old daughter, Janey, died of cancer.
On July 6, 2009, Laura Jones filed suit against the U.S. government over the contaminated water at the base. Jones previously lived at the base where her husband, a Marine, was stationed, and she has since been diagnosed with lymphoma. Twenty former residents of Camp Lejeune—all men who lived there during the 1960s and the 1980s—have been diagnosed with breast cancer. In April 2009, the United States Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry withdrew a 1997 public health assessment at Camp Lejeune that denied any connection between the toxins and illness.
In July 2012, the U.S. Senate passed a bill, called the Janey Ensminger Act in honor of retired Marine Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger's daughter Janey who died of cancer at age 9, authorizing medical care to military and family members who had resided at the base between 1957 and 1987 and developed conditions linked to the water contamination. The measure applies to up to 750,000 people. The bill applies to 15 specific ailments believed to be linked to the contamination, including cancer of the esophagus, lung, breast, bladder or kidney; leukemia; multiple myeloma; myleodysplasic syndromes; renal toxicity; hepatic steatosis; female infertility; miscarriage; scleroderma; and/or neurobehavioral effects or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The Department of Veterans Affairs is assigned to provide the medical care. To fund the medical care, the bill extended higher fees for VA home loan guarantees through 2017.
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