Camp Lejeune Water Treatment Systems

Photo of a brick building

Water Treatment Systems Were Contaminated at Camp Lejeune from 1953-1987

Over the history of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, there were eight water-distribution systems that treated and supplied or are currently supplying water to facilities that include family housing at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

The eight water-distribution plants responsible for all the water at Camp Lejeune include:

  • Hadnot Point
  • Tarawa Terrace
  • Holcomb Boulevard
  • Courthouse Bay
  • Rifle Range
  • Onslow Beach
  • Montford Point/Camp Johnson
  • New River

How the Water is Processed at Camp Lejeune Water Treatment Plants

Diagram of water treatment plant process at Camp Lejeune.
Diagram of how a water treatment plant works at Camp Lejeune

Water Contaminated with Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs

Three of Camp Lejeune’s eight water treatment plants were contaminated with hazardous VOCs - carbon-containing compounds that can evaporate at room temperature and be inhaled. The toxic VOCs discovered in the water supply at Camp Lejeune included Tetrachloroethylene PCE or PERC, Trichloroethylene TCE, Vinyl Chloride VC, and benzene. The VOCs in the water are environmental contaminants and some are classified as known human carcinogens. VOCs are made from toxic products and processes including:

  • dry cleaning solvents
  • degreasers
  • chemicals used on heavy machinery
  • gasoline
  • waste dumps
  • wood preserving

The three contaminated water-distribution plants Hadnot Point, Tarawa Terrace, and Holcomb Boulevard supplied water to the majority of the family housing units at Camp Lejeune. Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace became directly contaminated when toxins from ABC One-Hour Drycleaners, underground fuel supplies, and waste disposal sites penetrated the wells that collected groundwater which pumped the water to the treatment plants.

While the wells at the Holcomb Boulevard water treatment plant were not generally contaminated, toxic water was supplied by Hadnot Point to supplement the drinking water supply at Holcomb when needed during the dry spring and summer months between 1972-1985.

Hadnot Point Water Distribution Plant

The Hadnot Point water distribution system began operating in 1942 and served the following areas:

  • Mainside barracks
  • Hospital Point family housing
  • Midway Park until June 1972
  • Paradise Point until June 1972
  • Berkeley Manor until June 1972

TCE was the main contaminant in the water supply at Hadnot Point with maximum TCE levels detected in the drinking water at 1,400 parts per billion (ppb) in May 1982, current limits are 5 ppb. There were other contaminants present including PCE, DCE (trans-1,2-dichloroethylene), vinyl chloride, and benzene. The toxins were traced to leaking underground storage tanks and waste disposal sites. The most contaminated wells at Hadnot Point were closed by February 1985.

Tarawa Terrace Water Distribution Plant

The Tarawa Terrace plant began operating in 1952 and served the following areas:

  • Knox trailer park
  • Tarawa Terrace family housing

PCE was the main contaminant in the water supply at Tarawa Terrace with maximum PCE levels of 215 ppb detected in the drinking water in February 1985, current limits are 5 ppb. The PCE concentrations exceeded the limits for over 28 years from November 1957- February 1987. The main source of PCE contamination came from the nearby ABC One-Hour Cleaners. The most contaminated wells at Tarawa Terrace were shut down in February 1985 and the system no longer operated after 1987.

Holcomb Boulevard Water Distribution Plant

The Holcomb Boulevard system began operating in June of 1972 and served the following areas:

  • Midway Park family housing
  • Paradise Point family housing
  • Berkeley Manor family housing
  • Watkins Village family housing
  • Tarawa Terrace family housing after March 1987

The wells at Holcomb Boulevard were not generally contaminated by a direct source but the water was tainted by the intermittent supplementation of water from the Hadnot Point Water Distribution Plant during certain months between 1972 and 1985.

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