Last Updated: November 26, 2023
Author: Robert King

Military Water Contamination Lawsuit Update

November 26, 2023 – Congress expresses urgency to address PFAS contamination on military bases

The United States Senate, in a bipartisan letter has continued to apply pressure to the Department of Defense because of the PFAS contamination on US military bases. In their recent letter to Secretary of Defense a bipartisan group of senators indicated their understanding of the serious health consequences of PFAS exposure and demanded action by the military. The senators seems to show that PFAS cleanup will be a priority for the government. We are investigating cases involving PFAS exposure on military bases through both direct exposure to AFFF firefighting foam and PFAS drinking water exposure.

November 24, 2023 – The Push to make VA Disability presumptive for illnesses caused by PFAS exposure

The VA continues to send mix messages about the health affects of PFAS chemicals on military bases. The VA pays lip service to the negative health implications of PFAS exposure. The VA also says that PFAS exposure can cause illnesses depending on the toxicity level, frequency and duration of PFAS exposure. However the PFAS exposure is not a presumptive illness for VA disability benefits. The VA website on PFAS can be found here.

Several elected officials as well as various service organizations including DAV have pushed the VA to make PFAS injuries presumptive for military disability benefits. Veterans can apply for disability benefits for PFAS exposure. In addition our law firm is accepting claims nationwide to hold the chemical companies accountable for their role in the contamination. The Department of Defense has admitted to elevated levels of PFAS on over 700 military bases. We are accepting claims for Kindney Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Thyroid Disease, Pre-eclampsia and Ulcerative Colitis.

November 20, 2023 – DOD Continues to Release Data Regarding PFAS Military Base Contamination Sites

The Department of Defense continues to investigate and further admit to high levels of PFAS exposure at hundreds of military bases around the world. The DOD provided the attached report to the United States House of Representatives and Senate in September detailing 707 known PFAS contamination sites. Interestingly the government relied on the EPA’s modeling to determine whether public water sources are threatened using the EPA contamination website that shows PFAS contamination sites. The EPA is proposing PFAS, PFOS, PFOA and X levels in the low single digits. Many military bases have levels hundreds or thousands of times higher than that. It seems logical to us then that the DOD is accepting what EPA is saying and will eventually admit that thousands of veterans and their families were made sick because of heightened PFAS levels on military bases. We believe that much of that PFAS contamination came from AFFF a/k/a firefighting foam. It is nearly impossible to dispute that high levels of PFAS exposure can cause Kidney Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Thyroid Disease, Pre-Eclampsia and Ulcerative Colitis. Our firm is investigating these cases. We believe that there may be a PFAS lawsuit against the chemical companies that produced AFFF firefighting foam. The information coming out of the DOD makes it almost impossible to believe that a veteran was not exposed to high levels of PFAS sometime during their military service. If you or a loved one have or had Kidney Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Thyroid Disease, Pre-eclampsia or Ulcerative Colitis this could be the reason why.

September 2023 – Over 4,600 military servicemembers and civilians file legal claims related to water contamination at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. The claims relate to a jet fuel spill at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Facility that reported contaminated drinking water causing significant harm.

September 2023 – In a briefing to Congress on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Groundwater, the DoD acknowledges that 707 military installations have been identified as potentially contaminated with PFAS. 245 sites are identified as being in the proximity of groundwater aquifers that serve as a “primary or secondary source of drinking water.”

August 2023 – To date, over 27 Attorney Generals have initiated lawsuits against PFAS manufacturers, and thousands of claims have been filed.

June 2023 – Multi-million dollar settlements announced against manufacturers of PFAS-containing products, including 3M and Dupont.

March 2022 – The DoD’s task force releases a progress report of the now 700 potentially contaminated military installations. Many of the sites are listed as under preliminary assessment or site inspection.

July 2021 – In a Public Outreach Presentation on PFAS by the Department of Defense, the military announces that they have invested $90 million through Fiscal Year 2021 to research the problem and expedite the cleanup process at the identified sites. An additional $70 million investment is announced through Fiscal Year 2025.

March 2020 – The Department of Defense (DoD) releases a PFAS task force progress report detailing its progress. In connection with this release, the Department identifies 651 sites being assessed for contamination.

December 2019 – The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act is signed into law prohibiting the uncontrolled release of fluorinated aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). AFFF is a fire-fighting foam used by the military since the 1970s that is known to contain forever chemicals known as PFAS.

July 2019 – The Secretary of Defense creates a task force to address the military’s use and the Department of Defense’s approach to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

March 2019 – In a hearing on the Federal response to the risks associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies 180 military locations as “superfund sites” with PFAS contamination.

Overview: Military Base Water Contamination Lawsuit

Since the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Defense has used products containing dangerous chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. These toxic substances are known as “forever chemicals” because of perseverance in the environment. PFAS have been linked to adverse health conditions, including an increased risk of cancer. Nearly all blood samples collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate the presence of PFAS.

In March 2020, the Department of Defense releases a study indicating the presence of PFAS at over 650 military sites nationwide. By 2023, the number of identified installations with potential PFAS contamination grows to over 700. Cleanup efforts are underway at many of these sites, including those with known groundwater contamination. If you were diagnosed with a PFAS-related cancer, contact our office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. King Law has experienced water contamination attorneys who are accepting cases nationwide.

On this page:

List of Military Bases with Contaminated Water

In 2019, in testimony to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, 180 military locations were identified as “superfund sites” with PFAS contamination. A superfund site is the informal name given to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Designation as a superfund site provides funds and authority to the  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up the location.

Military installations designated as superfund sites include but are not limited to:

  • Adak Naval Air Station
  • Barstow Marine Corps Logistics Base
  • Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base
  • Castle Air Force Base
  • Edwards Air Force Base
  • Eielson Air Force Base
  • Elmendorf Air Force Base
  • Fort Ord
  • Fort Richardson
  • Fort Wainwright
  • George Air Force Base
  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord
  • Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman
  • Luke Air Force Base
  • March Air Force Base
  • MCAS Yuma
  • McClellan Air Force Base
  • Naval Air Station Alameda Main Barracks
  • Norton Air Force Base
  • Travis Air Force Base
  • Williams Air Force Base
  • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Over the past four years, additional inquiries have found PFAS contamination at hundreds of other military installations, including in the groundwater. Groundwater contamination frequently comes from the military’s use of PFAS-containing products such as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), jet fuel, and industrial solvents.

Sources of Military Base Water Contamination

While the use of PFAS is widespread, thereby making it difficult to determine what caused the contamination, the increased presence of the toxic chemicals near military installations is concerning. Studies show that the military’s continued use of PFAS-containing products such as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) can easily infiltrate the soil seeping into the groundwater and aquifer, which are primary and secondary sources of drinking water for some communities.

Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF)

Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) has been used by the United States military since the 1970s. The fire-fighting foam is used by firefighters during training exercises and to fight live liquid fires. It is known to contain PFAS, often referred to as “forever chemicals,” which infiltrate and pollute the groundwater, consequently affecting the drinking water on military installations. While the Department of Defense has acknowledged the dangers of AFFF, it is still being used.

Jet Fuel

In November 2021, a jet fuel leak from the Red Hill fuel storage facility on the island of Oahu contaminated the water system that served over 93,000 people. Shortly after the spill, residents near the military installation at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam began reporting complaints of serious illness. A sample of the water found that it had been contaminated by dangerous toxins and forever chemicals, including benzene, toluene, and xylene. The storage facility had previously released fuel in May 2021 and January 2014, resulting in contaminated water.

Industrial Solvents

Since as early as the 1950s, the military has used industrial solvents with potentially harmful chemicals and toxins. The most famous example is the contamination of water from dry cleaning water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The waste reportedly contained toxic contaminants like trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), which seeped into the ground leading to drinking water contamination and sickening countless servicemembers and their families.

Landfills and Waste Sites

Landfills and waste disposal areas have also become the origins of water pollution on military bases across the U.S. Improperly disposed chemicals cause long-term seepage into the groundwater, resulting in contamination for decades. At Camp Lejeune, industrial solvents and other contaminants in a landfill were improperly discarded, leading to further water contamination and exposing servicemembers to toxic chemicals.

Leaking Underground Storage Tanks

Poorly maintained underground storage tanks have also caused significant water contamination, such as at Camp Lejeune and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman. Underground storage tanks are frequently left unmonitored, making detection of leaks difficult until the problem is widespread, such as the case at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman. Regulations now require the replacement of single-walled Underground Storage Tanks (USTs). All USTs must also now have proper monitoring devices attached to them, but many still exist that lack these features.

Contaminants in Military Drinking Water

When tested, drinking water near military installations across the country contained a number of contaminants known to cause harm when ingested by humans. While the widespread use of products containing many of these “forever chemicals” means that the pollutants may have originated from various sources, there are certain chemicals frequently found at military sites.

The contaminants found in the groundwater at military locations nationwide can cause adverse health conditions, including an increased risk of cancer, reproductive harm, and life-threatening diseases. If you have been diagnosed with an illness after exposure to contaminated water at a military site, it is strongly recommended that you speak to an attorney.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

For decades, the military has used products containing PFAS, including the fire-fighting foam AFFF. It is believed that the military’s use of AFFF and other PFAS-containing products led to water contamination at over 700 installations nationwide, including at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Exposure to PFAS can cause an increased risk:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Thyroid disease and dysfunction
  • Decreased antibody response
  • Liver enzyme alterations

While PFAS are present in a number of consumer products, the military’s continued use of AFFF may have put people at an increased risk of harm. It is important to consult with an attorney if you have received a diagnosis of a PFAS-related condition. The EPA has regulated the acceptable levels of PFAS in the nation’s water supply.

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a synthetic chemical that is primarily used in refrigerants and other hydrofluorocarbons. In the military, it is primarily used as an industrial cleaner to remove grease from metal parts. When the toxin spills or is improperly disposed of at a landfill, it can seep into the soil and contaminate the groundwater.

In January 2023, the EPA released its final revised risk determination for trichloroethylene (TCE). It found that the substance “presents an unreasonable risk of injury to human health under its conditions of use” and is considering what actions to take to regulate its use.


The military’s use of industrial solvents containing dangerous chemicals such as benzene is prevalent. Multiple federal agencies have placed regulations on the maximum permissible level of benzene in drinking water, including the EPA. The EPA limit is 5 parts benzene per billion parts of water (5 ppb).

Symptoms and Health Effects of Drinking Contaminated Water

Drinking contaminated water can be extremely detrimental to your health. Ingestion of toxic chemicals such as PFAS, trichloroethylene and benzene can increase your risk of developing cancer, affect your nervous system, and cause reproductive harm. It is in your best interest to consult with an attorney if you believe that you were exposed to contaminated water.

Drinking contaminated water may cause:

  • An increased risk of certain cancers
  • Infertility
  • Damage to your bones and blood marrow
  • Respiratory issues
  • Reproductive harm
  • Weakened immune system
  • Neurological disorders
  • Liver damage
  • Changes in fetal and child development

Many times the signs and symptoms of drinking contaminated water are relatively mild at first. They may include frequent headaches, frequent bouts of dizziness, and feelings of nausea. Over time with increased exposure, the symptoms will get worse, potentially becoming life-threatening. It is essential to obtain an accurate diagnosis from a medical professional.

Military Water Contamination Lawsuit Compensation Evaluation

If you were diagnosed with a condition related to drinking contaminated water at a military installation, you might be entitled to compensation. In order to obtain financial recovery, you will need to undergo a military water contamination lawsuit compensation evaluation. This evaluation will help determine whether you should pursue legal action and how much your case may be worth.

Thousands of legal claims are being filed across the country related to contaminated drinking water. It is believed that these cases, including those against manufacturers of PFAS-containing products, may result in multi-million dollar settlements.

How to File a Military Water Contamination Lawsuit

In order to file a military water contamination lawsuit, you need to consult with an attorney. During your consultation, you will want to provide vital evidence, including your medical records, military directives, and discharge paperwork, if applicable.

The more information you can provide related to your condition and your service, the better. Water contamination lawsuits may take several months or longer to resolve. An attorney can help guide you through the process so you know what to anticipate.

Contact a Water Contamination Lawyer

Were you diagnosed with an illness or adverse health condition after drinking contaminated water at a military base? Contact our office to discuss your case with an experienced member of our legal team. At King Law, we have decades of experience handling complex cases, including those against the military. We will work to get you the compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which military bases have contaminated water?
Over 180 sites have been listed as superfund sites requiring EPA cleanup. Additional inquiries have identified additional sites.
How many military bases have contaminated water?
To date, there are over 700 sites that have been identified as having some form of contamination.
Is there a lawsuit for contaminated water on military bases?
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed based on contaminated water at military bases across the country.
Who qualifies for a military base water contamination lawsuit?
Individuals who have suffered a verifiable adverse health condition related to water contamination at a military base.
What contaminants are present in toxic military drinking water?
Several contaminants are present in toxic military drinking water, including PFAS, Trichloroethylene (TCE), and benzene.
What are the main sources of water contamination on military bases?
The main sources of water contamination on military bases are the use of AFFF, jet fuel spills, industrial solvents, landfills and waste sites, and leaking underground storage tanks.