Camp Lejeune Glossary

Definition of contaminate from antique dictionary.

Terms, Definitions & Acronyms Relating to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Aesthetic problems

Color cover of the ATSDR Chapter A: Summary and Findings report on water contaminants at Camp Lejeune
ATSDR's March 2013 Chapter A Summary and Findings of Camp Lejeune

Unpleasant in look, smell, or taste relating to water.


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is a federal public health agency formed to protect communities from harmful health effects linked to exposure to natural and man-made hazardous substances.

Base Orders 5100.13B

In 1974, the base orders set out a safe disposal procedure for hazardous waste disposal which was not followed. 

Description of 5100.13B from Michael Partain’s letter:

Base Order 5100.13B was the third revision of an order from the Commanding General of Camp Lejeune. The order dates back to June 1974 and may date back to the creation of the base’s chemical dump in 1959. We will not know the actual beginning date of the order until the Marine Corps produces the prior two versions of the order and the higher headquarter guidance which created the order in the first place. Base Order 5100.13 B of contaminants or hazardous wastes (Exhibit S). The order identified organic solvents as hazardous materials and ominously warned that improper disposal of contaminants and hazardous materials created hazards such as contamination of drinking water.

As I read BUMED 6240.3B and Base Order 5100.13B a line from a famous movie called “A Few Good Men” comes to mind. “We follow orders, or people die. It’s that simple” At Camp Lejeune, orders were not followed and people have died or made sick due to the negligence of the United States Marine Corps.


Color diagram map of PCE concentration levels in groundwater samples collected at Hadnot Point and Holcomb Boulevard
Figure showing Benzene concentration levels in groundwater samples collected at Hadnot Point and Holcomb Boulevard, 1984-2004

A toxic compound found in several industrial chemicals. Benzene has been linked to cancers including myeloid leukemia (AML), other forms of leukemia, multiple myeloma, lung cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Benzene can result from both natural processes like volcanoes and forest fires and human activities resulting from crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. Benzene is ranked in the top 20 chemicals for production volume in the United States. 

Excerpt from 2010 Hearing on Camp Lejeune: “Despite these warnings it took more than 2 more years, and the discovery of another more sinister contaminant, benzene, before Department of the Navy or the U.S. Marine Corps took steps to actually close the contaminated wells. In July 1984 test data from another contractor indicated that well #602 in the Hadnot Point Industrial Area had a benzene level of 380-parts per billion (ppb). The current maximum contaminant limit for benzene exposure set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is 5-ppb.” 

Camp Lejeune ignored warnings for more than 2 years and the discovery of benzene to finally initiate the closing of contaminated wells.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Photograph of an EPA Superfund Site sign on a chain link fence
An Environmental Protection Agency CERCLA Warning sign on the fence of a Superfund Site


Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 -  Informally called Superfund, CERCLA was enacted on December 11, 1980 by Congress and was responsible for:

  • establishing requirements and prohibitions surrounding abandoned and closed hazardous waste sites
  • making those responsible liable for the release of hazardous waste at Superfund sites
  • creating a trust fund for cleanup expenses when no responsible party could be identified
  • authorizing both short-term removals and long-term remedial response actions
  • enabling the revision of the National Contingency Plan (NCP)

CERCLA was amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorisation (SARA) Act on October 17, 1986.


Contaminants of Concern

ATSDR map showing Hadnot Point Fuel Farm and surrounding area


Hadnot Point Fuel Farm


Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic Division based in Norfolk, Virginia 

Love Canal

Love Canal created an awareness of potential water contamination issues. 1920’s Love Canal was turned into a municipal and industrial chemical dumpsite. 1942 Hooker Chemicals and Plastics Corporation purchased the site. By 1953 Hooker Chemicals, the owners and operators of the Love Canal property, covered the canal over with clay and sold it for $1 to the city of Niagara Falls, New York. In 1955 the 99th Street Elementary School was built and homes were constructed creating a working-class community at the Love Canal site. 

Aerial photograph of Love Canal neighborhood prior to 1978.
Love Canal (prior to 1978) where groundwater was contaminated with more than 80 industrial chemicals

By the late 1970’s, the EPA Journal published an article regarding chemical dumpsites on the whole and noted that even though some of the landfills were closed, they were “like ticking time bombs.” Record rainfalls over unusually wet wingers raised the water table causing the chemicals to leach into basements, yards, playgrounds that were build on top of the buried canal. President Carter declared a state of emergency after local activists fought to have action taken. Families were experiencing illnesses such as asthma, migraines, epilepsy, birth defects, miscarriages from the known carcinogens including halogenated organics, chlorobenzenes, and dioxin.


microscopic organisms


North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality


National Contingency Plan provided guidelines necessary to respond to releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.

National Priorities List (NPL) map of current, proposed and deleted Superfund Sites in the U.S.


National Priorities List - list of sites of national priority for known contaminates


National Service Center for Environmental Publications


National Toxicology Program


disease-causing microbes 


Color diagram map of PCE concentration levels in groundwater samples collected at Hadnot Point and Holcomb Boulevard
Figure showing PCE concentration levels in groundwater samples collected at Hadnot Point and Holcomb Boulevard, 1984-2004

Tetrachloroethylene (Perchloroethylene), 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethylene, or perchloroethylene; also known as PERC® or PERK®. PCE is a dry-cleaning solvent that was used by ABC One-Hour Cleaners, a dry-cleaning business located within 2 miles of Camp Lejeune. PCE is also used for metal degreasing and manufacturing other chemicals. PCE has been connected to an increased risk of breast cancer, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and neurobehavioral effects.

While PCE was identified as a contaminant in 1982, Camp Lejeune did not promptly remove the affected wells until December 1984. 


public health assessment


parts per billion


Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 


Record of Decision


Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 allowed for several important changes to CERCLA including:

  • permanent remedies for cleaning up hazardous waste sites
  • consideration of requirements by state and federal laws and regulations
  • a focus on human health problems from hazardous waste sites
  • increased size of trust fund to $8.5 billion


The Safe Drinking Water Act was established in 1974 to protect the quality of drinking water in the U.S. This law focuses on all waters actually or potentially designed for drinking use, whether from above ground or underground sources.

  • The Act authorizes EPA to establish minimum standards to protect tap water and requires all owners or operators of public water systems to comply with these primary (health-related) standards.
  • The 1996 amendments to SDWA require that EPA consider a detailed risk and cost assessment, and best available peer-reviewed science, when developing these standards.
  • State governments, which can be approved to implement these rules for EPA, also encourage attainment of secondary standards (nuisance-related).
  • Under the Act, EPA also establishes minimum standards for state programs to protect underground sources of drinking water from endangerment by underground injection of fluids.

Superfund Site

CERCLA designated site that has been polluted and requires long-term processes to clean up the toxic material contaminates. 


Trihalomethanes are the toxic byproduct of the chlorine disinfectant process. THMs are a chemical such as chloroform.


Color diagram map of TCE concentration levels in groundwater samples collected at Hadnot Point and Holcomb Boulevard
Figure showing TCE concentration levels in groundwater samples collected at Hadnot Point and Holcomb Boulevard, 1984-2004

Trichloroethylene, TCE 1,1,2-Trichloroethene; commonly referred to as 1,1,2-trichloroethylene or trichloroethylene is a colorless liquid chemical used as a solvent or degreaser for metal machinery. Exposure to TCE has been linked to to kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, other cancers, and cardiac effects. 

Excerpt from 2010 Hearing on Camp Lejeune: “A 1986 court case, Clark vs. USA, did establish that by the 1950’s it was generally known that TCE was unfit for human consumption.” 

Camp Lejeune made no efforts to remediate the TCE that was discovered in the water supply during testing of potable water sampling by USAEHA in 1981. 


United States Environmental Protection Agency


United States Army Environmental Hygiene Agency Lab, located in Ft. McPherson, Georgia, was the second lab to find water contamination at Camp Lejeune.


Vinyl Chloride also known as chloroethene, chloroethylene, and ethylene monochloride is a manufactured colorless gas used in the production of plastic products ranging from PVC pipes to wire coatings. VC was also used in many household products including makeup, refrigerants, and other consumables such as combustion products in tobacco smoke. Heavy exposure to vinyl chloride has been linked to multiple myeloma, liver cancer, and other cancers.

Once informed of the presence of vinyl chloride in the water supply in 1980, Camp Lejeune made no immediate effort to investigate or remediate further. 

Visible cloudiness

Was later termed turbidity.


Colorful ATSDR graph showing VOC (PCE, TCE, DCE, VC and Benzene) concentration levels in microorganisms per liter at Camp Lejeune
ATSDR Reconstructed Drinking Water Concentrations for VOCs at Camp Lejeune

Volatile organic compounds are carbon-containing compounds that can evaporate at room temperature and be inhaled. Examples of VOCs found at Camp Lejeune include PCE, TCE, VC and benzene. VOCs are environmental contaminants and some are classified as known human carcinogens. VOCs are generated by many toxic products and processes including:

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


Photo of a water treatment plant surrounded by grass in the country
Coagulation and filtration processes at a drinking water treatment plant

water treatment plant

Water treatment

A process or series of processes used to improve the aesthetic qualities of water dating back to as early as 4000 BC. Some historical water treatments include charcoal filtering, boiling, straining and exposing to water sunlight. Later, 1800’s slow sand filtration would be a main water treatment method.

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