Former residents at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune has caused a legal battle between the Marine Corps and its former residents. The water contamination at the base was found to date as far back as the 1950s. Thousands of former residents have developed cancer, birth defects, and other serious illnesses. To date, no one has been able to recover compensation through a civil lawsuit.
According to the 1990 Census, there was a population of about 110,000 in the area, with over 7,650 buildings. At the time, there were several African-American cemeteries in the area. After the base was built, the African-American community moved out. This prompted the construction of new barracks at the site.
Water that was used by base residents was contaminated with chemicals and toxins. Some samples showed concentrations of 240 to 3,400 times higher than safety standards. This was despite a 1974 base order that called for safe disposal of solvents and warned against improper handling of chemicals. Additionally, the base put the contaminated wells back online in violation of the law. The base’s drinking water contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which cause birth defects in babies and other adverse health effects in pregnant women.
The newly-constructed dining facility at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune will feature an outdoor eating area. The bicentennial tree will remain part of the base’s landscape. Former residents of the base can visit it and enjoy its shade.