The Secretary of the Navy is denying all future civil claims by individuals who were exposed to contaminated drinking water at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, leaving around 4,500 individuals high and dry.
Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer has effectively stonewalled around $63 billion in compensation,saying that there is no “legal way” for the Navy to pay out.
“We are denying the claims to free everybody to take their own course of action,” he said.
According to NBC News, Spencer acknowledged that it will be difficult for those who have made claims, noting that the plaintiffs will have six months to appeal.
In what is believed to be one of the largest water contamination cases in America’s history, the case has around 4,500 tort claims against the Navy, and involves a timeline ranging from the 1950s to the 1980s.
The contamination aspect involves dangerous chemicals that were in the drinking water supply for several decades, which exposed Sailors and Marines alike, as well as civilians.
The Department of Veteran Affairs estimated that up to 900,000 personnel were potentially exposed. In 2017, the Obama administration agreed to provide around $2 billion to veterans who were exposed, covering diseases ranging from leukemia to liver cancer.
The denial of the claims, it should be noted, will not impact medical care or disability benefits.
According to Spencer, three separate legal statutes make the government immune from the claims.
By rejecting all of the claims in bulk, Spencer claims, individuals are able to pursue other ways of getting compensation.
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