Water contamination is a growing problem in America. People have been battling it since the industrial revolution. A study by Gallup shows that 53% of civilians worry about water contamination in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Moreover, about 56% of individuals are skeptical about the purity of drinking water.
Did you know the extent of industrial pollution on water bodies occurred due to rapid urbanization and lack of regulations? It results in the discharge of pollutants into surface and groundwater.
The country has heard about thousands of oil spills on water bodies since the 1960s. An example would be the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. At the same time, water contamination can occur due to industrial waste produced from mining and harmful forever chemicals. The Camp Lejeune incident would be a great example of this.
This blog will chronicle the top 3 water contamination events in the country.
#1. The Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Between 1950-1980, there was a leak from underground storage tanks at waste disposal sites in the Camp Lejeune military base. These caused toxic substances to seep into the drinking water system. Hence, around 1 million veterans were affected by industrial solvents, forever chemicals, benzene, and other harmful toxins.
TorHoerman Law suggests that after drinking water contaminated with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) for three decades, veterans and military families started developing life-threatening ailments. Examples include different types of cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and more.
It was too late when such diseases were finally linked to contaminated drinking water. The event occurred due to the carelessness of big industrial companies.
Hence, affected individuals filed a lawsuit against the companies involved. The Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement amounts are between USD 10,000 to USD 500,000 individually. However, the payout will depend on the extent of the military personnel’s health issues.
This water contamination lawsuit became so huge that the President passed a Camp Lejeune Justice Act to honor the victims. TorHoerman Law recommends that affected individuals keep their medical reports handy if they want to file a lawsuit.
#2. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
The Deepwater Horizon operated off the Gulf of Mexico near Louisiana. It was an oil rig with semi-submersible drilling features. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, it exploded in 2010.
Eleven crew members died in this explosion which cracked the rig. Due to this displacement, a vent was created that seeped out oil near the ocean floor. The worst part was that no probe could go 5,000 feet below sea level and mend the crack.
As a result, the oil kept seeping out for 87 days. It oozed 3.19 million barrels of oil which damaged marine life. The magnitude of this event completely halted the Gulf Coast’s operations and affected shorelines up to 1,000 miles.
The world dubbed this the largest oil spill in American history. The government shut down many fisheries due to flora and fauna contamination.
The economic situation was dire. About 12,000 individuals were temporarily unemployed, and the government halted tourism. The company responsible created a USD 20.8 billion compensation fund for the affected individuals and families.
#3. The Flint Water Crisis
In 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, started to have a drinking water crisis. The state changed the water supply from Lake Huron and Detroit River to Flint River. However, the water was contaminated with high levels of lead and other pollutants from industrial waste.
The residents noticed something odd after using the tap water for 18 months. They complained about discolored and foul-smelling water. It had an off-putting taste as well. Some residents started to develop hair loss, rashes, and itchy skin.
Along with that, the victims had memory and vision loss. Additionally, the presence of lead in the drinking water affected their blood, causing health implications like Legionnaires’ disease. This severe pneumonia claimed the lives of 12 residents of Flint.
At the same time, some individuals developed anxiety and depression due to the water. The saddest part? The officials initially did not listen to the residents’ complaints. Hence, they took matters into their own hands and filed lawsuits.
In March 2023, a judge approved USD 600 million settlement for the Flint water crisis lawsuit.
The Bottom Line
Water contamination due to industrial negligence has risen over the past few decades. Events like the Camp Lejeune water contamination, the ongoing Flint water crisis, and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill are brutal reminders.
These events have caused residents to develop health risks and affected their economic conditions. Hence, they had to file lawsuits against the companies at fault. After many years of fighting with the companies involved, these individuals got settlements worth thousands of dollars.
But do these settlement amounts make up for the victims’ suffering? Probably not.