Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Mike Stag, Esq.
The Camp Pendleton Water Lawsuit is an active lawsuit
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Camp Pendleton Water Contamination Lawsuit Overview

Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base in California, has supported military training and operations since 1942 during World War II. Located in San Diego County on California’s southern coast, Camp Pendleton allows Marines to train across various terrains, including large beaches to rugged inland terrain. It has evolved and expanded to accommodate numerous Operating Force battalions and continues to be a supporting factor for military operations and national defense strategies.

Unfortunately, Camp Pendleton is now a Superfund site due to long-standing water contamination issues. A spray firefighting foam was often used at the base to control and put out fires. However, this foam contains a group of toxic chemicals called PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) that seep into the ground and contaminate the groundwater. Another chemical, TCE (trichloroethylene) was also a source of contamination on base as it was used as a degreasing agent on vehicles and other military equipment. Groundwater is the main water source for the base, putting Marines and their families at risk of pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and other life-threatening conditions. Victims can seek compensation if they were exposed to PFAS and TCE on base and have since developed a related illness.

Camp Pendleton Water Contamination Lawsuit Updates

February 13, 2024 – Camp Pendleton Water Contamination Lawsuit Status

Veterans and affected family members who were stationed at Camp Pendleton can file a lawsuit if they were exposed to contaminated water on base and now have a related illness. Individuals living near the base may also be eligible. King Law is dedicated to representing victims and bringing cases against these chemical companies. We’ve identified a strong correlation between certain illnesses like kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid cancer, and bladder cancer, and time spent on base where water was contaminated with PFAS.

2017 – Local Water Districts Sue Marine Corps for Water Treatment Costs

Two San Diego water districts, including the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District, sued the Marine Corps for issues related to water contamination. They sought financial support for treatment efforts necessary to maintain safe drinking water for local communities.

2011 – Environmentalists Sued Camp Pendleton for Contamination

In 2011, a group of San Diego environmentalists sued Camp Pendleton. They wanted to hold the base accountable for multiple spills they felt impacted the water quality of beaches and waterways nearby. The two groups reached a settlement in 2013.

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The History of Water Contamination at Camp Pendleton

Camp Pendleton’s contamination concerns date back to the 1980s when several spills contaminated soil and drinking water at and around the base. In 1995, the soil tested positive for TCE and TPH (total petroleum hydrocarbons), sparking the removal of 14,000 cubic yards of affected soil. In January 1997, 25,000 cubic yards of soil were then removed due to contamination with pesticides, metals, and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Camp Pendleton was declared a Superfund site and placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) for prioritized Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigation.

Issues continued, and in February 2007, officials decided to excavate waste-filled drums contributing to soil and groundwater contamination. They also installed four monitoring wells to identify when groundwater remediation was needed. However, throughout 2007 and 2008, testing continued to show potentially harmful amounts of contamination with Camp Pendleton’s groundwater. Found contaminants included perchlorate, DCE (dichloroethylene), TCE, and others. The cancer-causing chemicals were in water that Marines and their families drank and used to cook, clean, and bathe.

Reports continued to emerge about contaminated drinking water and its effect on military families. In 2022, the Marine Corps finished construction of a landfill cap that closed off a 28-acre class III landfill at Camp Pendleton that had operated from 1946 to 1970 to help reduce spreading contamination. However, “forever chemicals” became a huge concern as water continued to test positive for PFAS from 2019-2023. PFAS can cause kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer, thyroid issues, birth defects, and much more. In February 2022, eight wells were shut down at Camp Pendleton for exceeding PFAS water limits and the Marine Corps sought new filtration facilities to ensure military members had safe drinking water.

This infographic visualizes the timeline of contamination at Camp Pendleton.

Contaminants and Chemicals Found in Camp Pendleton’s Drinking Water

The EPA has determined which chemicals at Camp Pendleton “pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment” and require cleanup efforts. On this list are PFAS, DCE, TCE, TPH, and PAH. All of these chemicals pose a huge risk to Marines and their families, especially with long-term exposure which was common when stationed at the base.

PFAS: Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances

Records provided by the United States Marine Corps show the presence of PFAS in drinking water at Camp Pendleton 2019-2023. However, the extent of contamination is unclear. In a 2021 6-month water quality report, five PFAS compounds tested above the Method Reporting Limit (MRL). In the 2022 Annual Water Quality Report, four PFAS compounds exceeded limits. Data from 2019 and 2023 notes the presence of PFAS in the water but asserts levels were below the 2016 EPA limits. It’s important to note the EPA has updated PFAS limits drastically and what was once considered acceptable now requires remediation due to health concerns.

DCE: Dichloroethylene

DCE is a chlorinated solvent often used for cleaning purposes. DCE poses risks to humans and nature, especially with long-term exposure. It can harm the liver, kidneys, and nervous system, and increase cancer risk. DCE can get into the environment through industrial activities and improper disposal and has been a contaminant listed for the Camp Pendleton Superfund site.

TCE: Trichloroethylene

TCE is an industrial solvent commonly used for metal degreasing and as a chemical intermediate. One form of TCE exposure is through ingestion, such as through drinking water. Camp Pendleton TCE contamination continues to be a concern and something monitored at the Superfund site. Long-term exposure increases the risk of liver and kidney issues, including cancer.

TPH: Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons

TPH refers to a group of compounds found in petroleum products like crude oil, gasoline, and diesel fuel. TPH contamination commonly occurs in soil and water near areas with petroleum spills or leaks, such as at military bases like Camp Pendleton. TPH is a known carcinogen, increasing the risk of cancer and other serious health conditions.

PAH: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

PAHs are a group of chemicals formed during natural processes with organic materials like coal, oil, and gas. They are widespread environmental contaminants found in air, soil, sediment, and water. PAHs can also cause cancer, respiratory illnesses, developmental issues, and kidney and liver damage. Camp Pendleton is recognized for PAH soil contamination, which can impact groundwater and therefore drinking water for those on base.

Current Water Quality at Camp Pendleton

Camp Pendleton remains a Superfund site with concerns of groundwater and soil contamination. On the EPA’s list of contaminants at this site are DCE, TCE, TPH, and PAH. Testing continues to detect PFAS in the water as well with recent testing showing 8.7 parts per trillion (ppt) PFHxS, which is one type of PFAS chemical. EPA-proposed limits for PFOA and PFOS (two other PFAS compounds) are 4.0 ppt, for comparison.

The Advanced Water Treatment Plant at Camp Pendleton

Camp Pendleton has implemented a reverse osmosis advanced water treatment system to remove contaminants like PFAS in groundwater and drinking water. Reverse osmosis separates water molecules from other substances, purifying the water. This can remove contaminants and improve drinking water quality.

However, there are still limitations to this filtration method. And, the northern water system does not use as extensive of a process as the southern water system at Camp Pendleton. The EPA continues to develop more effective testing methods that could uncover additional PFAS compound concerns as well as lower acceptable limits of PFAS in water. So while filtration efforts can lower levels of PFAS in drinking water, it still may not be safe for humans as more information becomes available.

Health Risks Linked to Drinking Water at Camp Pendleton

There are numerous health risks associated with contaminated drinking water at Camp Pendleton, including:

  • Testicular cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Other thyroid issues
  • Birth defects
  • Changes in liver enzymes
  • Neurological disorders
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Lower vaccine effectiveness

Our law firm is currently evaluating cases where individuals have been diagnosed with:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis

If you have any symptoms related to water contamination, seek care immediately. Share details of your exposure with a health professional and follow through with any recommended screenings to detect illnesses as soon as possible.

Eligibility Criteria for Camp Pendleton Water Contamination Lawsuit

You could be entitled to compensation if you’ve been diagnosed with a condition linked to contamination at Camp Pendleton. King Law can evaluate your case to confirm your eligibility and determine compensation potential. However, eligibility typically relies on:

  • Acceptable exposure duration: How long you were exposed to water toxins is important for your case. Chemicals like PFAS build up in the body over time, increasing your risk of severe illness. Typically, at least six months of exposure is necessary for a successful case.
  • Related diagnosis: You must have a diagnosis connected to water contamination. Our firm has focused on claimants with kidney cancer, testicular cancer, bladder cancer, thyroid cancer, thyroid disease, and other illnesses listed below.

Our law firm is currently evaluating cases where individuals have been diagnosed with:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis

We can use this information to help you file a legal claim against PFAS and other chemical and product manufacturers to potentially reach a large water contamination settlement. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced attorney and provide any available information to support your case, such as medical records, military assignments, discharge paperwork, and any other supporting materials that prove your time spent at Camp Pendleton during the time of contamination and development of a related illness.

Camp Pendleton Water Contamination Settlement and Payout Amounts

King Law expects settlements to typically fall within a range of $30,000-$500,000. However, exact values will depend on the individual case. Previous related lawsuits have often resulted in $100,000-$300,000 with an average settlement amount of $250,000.

You may receive a higher payout if you were younger when diagnosed, have a longer-term illness, or have longer-term exposure. Some of these cases can extend toward $1,000,000. You may receive a lower payout if you lack evidence of your exposure or have a short-term condition with a range more near $30,000-$75,000.
Settlement amounts are often lower than cases that go to trial, but there is a risk of receiving no compensation if you do pursue trial.

How to File a Camp Pendleton Water Contamination Lawsuit

Filing a Camp Pendleton water contamination typically requires the following:

  1. Consult with an attorney experienced in environmental law and toxic torts, who can guide you through the process.
  2. Provide your attorney with any requested evidence, including medical records documenting any illnesses or health issues related to the contamination, military service records specifying your time at Camp Pendleton, and any relevant reports or studies documenting proof and extent of contamination.
  3. Your attorney will draft and file your complaint in the appropriate court. It will outline the information of the case, including who you deem responsible for your exposure and the types of toxins you were exposed to, such as PFAS or TCE.
  4. Your attorney will work to get you compensation through a settlement or they may suggest going to trial. Ensure you’re available to support as needed throughout the process to ensure the best outcome possible.
  5. Ideally, you will reach a settlement and be rewarded with compensation for your water contamination claim.

Evidence to Support Your Claim

Documentation and evidence is crucial to ensuring a successful legal case for Camp Pendleton water contamination lawsuits. Information you can use to build a strong case include:

  • Medical records stating your water contamination-related diagnosis
  • Medical records showing treatments and prognosis for your related condition
  • Copies of military orders, deployment records, discharge paperwork, and other files that show your time at Camp Pendleton when there were contamination concerns
  • Official reports and studies proving contamination at Camp Pendleton and the health risks associated with identified contaminants
  • Additional reports or testimonies deemed helpful by your attorney.

Without proof of your time at Camp Pendleton when there was contamination and proof of a related illness, you may not be able to build a strong enough case. Consult with an experienced attorney to ensure you have everything you need to be successful.

Camp Pendleton Water Contamination Lawyers

King Law attorneys have expertise in environmental law and military-related cases to provide unparalleled legal representation. With a deep understanding of the complexities surrounding PFAS and military base water contamination, our attorneys possess the knowledge and resources necessary to build a strong case. From evaluating your claim to filing the appropriate paperwork, we guide clients through every stage of the legal process with care and precision.

With King Law, clients can trust that they are receiving the highest level of representation, backed by years of experience and a steadfast commitment to securing the compensation they deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Camp Pendleton water safe to drink?
While recent reports indicate Camp Pendleton water is safe to drink with contaminant levels below EPA limits, it remains a Superfund site with contaminated groundwater. Tap water at Camp Pendleton continues to test positive for toxic chemicals like PFAS and TCE.
Is PFAS in Camp Pendleton water?
Yes, PFAS chemicals have been detected in recent tests of Camp Pendleton water.
Does Camp Pendleton have contaminated water?
The water at Camp Pendleton undergoes regular testing and continues to test positive for harmful chemicals like PFAS compounds.
What is the problem with the water in Camp Pendleton?
Camp Pendleton water has been contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals like PFAS, TCE, PPH, DCE, and PAH because of military activity. These chemicals can enter the groundwater from the use of firefighting foam and other substances commonly used on military bases.
What steps has Camp Pendleton taken to address the PFAS contamination?
Camp Pendleton is a Superfund site with a list of identified chemicals the EPA plans to target through cleanup efforts. Camp Pendleton has had contaminated soil removed and water systems are equipped with filtration systems that help remove chemicals like PFAS from drinking water.
What are the main contaminants found in Camp Pendleton’s drinking water?
Some of the contaminants found in Camp Pendleton’s drinking water include PFAS, TCE, DCE, PPH, and PAH, among others.
How effective is the Advanced Water Treatment Plant at Camp Pendleton in removing PFAS?
While reverse osmosis has been shown to be effective at removing PFAS from water supplies, water at Camp Pendleton still has PFAS in their drinking water.
Who is eligible for the Camp Pendleton water contamination lawsuit?
Individuals who were stationed at or who lived near Camp Pendleton during a time when the water was contaminated may be eligible for a lawsuit if they have developed a related illness. Claimants must have proof of their time at Pendleton as well as proof of their diagnosis.
How can individuals affected by the Camp Pendleton water contamination file a lawsuit?
Individuals affected by Camp Pendleton water contamination should seek help from an attorney experienced in military and environmental cases. With proof of their time at Pendleton and medical records showing their contamination-related illness, claimants can work with their lawyer to file a case and potentially reach a settlement.
What types of evidence are crucial for supporting claims in the Camp Pendleton water contamination lawsuit?
Camp Pendleton water contamination claimants must have documentation showing they were assigned to the base during a time when there was water contamination. They must also have medical records detailing their diagnosis. Additional evidence can include studies showing the correlation between such contamination and illnesses, an official prognosis and treatment plan, as well as records of military assignment and discharge.
What are the expected settlement amounts in the Camp Pendleton water contamination lawsuit?
Water contamination lawsuits can fall between $30,000 to $500,000. They can fall between $100,00 and $300,000 for cases with prolonged exposure and long-term illness, sometimes reaching toward $1,000,000. They may fall in the range of $30,000 and $75,000 with weak evidence.