For decades, water contamination on the countryâ€™s military bases has been left unaddressed. As a result, too many people have become sick because the military does not want to spend the money to decontaminate the groundwater.
According to a Military Times article, Congress is particularly concerned about two chemical compounds, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also called PFAs. These chemicals are found in all sorts of products in Indiana and other states, such as dental floss, food containers, and stain-resistant clothing.
They have also been used in firefighting foam in military jets. Unfortunately, these compounds take thousands of years to break down naturally, which has earned them the name â€śforever chemicals.â€ť
PFAs are in the water systems around the country as well as on military bases. Indeed, the Defense Department has identified over 400 military sites where PFAs were used. Many military families are increasingly fearful of the water in and around bases, and they are particularly worried that the Defense Department has not shown any intent to fix the problem.
PFAs contamination can lead to many negative health effects, including lower birth weight in babies, some cancers, and liver problems. These compounds are also dangerous at much lower levels than previously thought. Evidence has come to light that the military was aware of the potential dangers of these chemicals going all the way back to 1991, when Fort Carson in Colorado stopped using them as a rule.
Clean Up Costs Could Reach the Billions
Cleaning up military bases would not come cheap. According to best estimates, it would cost around $2 billion to clean up the two PFAs that are causing the most concern. The Pentagon has not yet requested any money to start the cleanup process. Instead, the military is handing out bottled water to people living on bases with suspected contamination.
Why is the Pentagon dragging its feet? Some suspect that the military wants to avoid legal responsibility. Requesting funds for cleanup would be a pretty clear admission that there is a problem, which could open them up to legal liability.
Indeed, the Navy has recently denied all civil liability for claims that arise from water contamination at Camp Lejeune. According to NBC News, the Navy has rejected the claims of 4,500 people who requested around $963 billion in compensation.
The Camp Lejeune contamination was one of the largest contamination cases in this countryâ€™s history, leading to a host of medical issues, including the death of children from cancer. Veterans Affairs estimated that, all told, around 900,000 people were possibly exposed to the contamination. Although the VA provides disability benefits stemming from the exposure, the government is not interested in paying additional compensation.
Contact an Indiana Veterans Benefits Attorney
If you were disabled while serving in the military, you might have a claim for benefits. Please contact our law firm now. The process for obtaining benefits is often difficult, with potential roadblocks popping up when you least expect them.