Toxic chemicals have reportedly been found at potentially dangerous levels in the groundwater and soil in and around Fort Ord. Hundreds of people who lived or served at Fort Ord worry their health problems may have been caused by the harsh chemicals the military used and dumped there, per the Associated Press.
If you lived or served near Fort Ord and have experienced health problems, you may have a legal claim. We can help.
Military spends decades dumping toxins; cancer-causing chemicals found in Fort Ord drinking water
Reporting by the Associated Press has exposed questionable chemical waste management practices by the military at Fort Ord. Soldiers recall being routinely “doused” with chemicals in the course of duty. Burn pits, which have been linked to adverse health effects in soldiers serving abroad, were often used to dispose of equipment and solvents. Toxic chemicals used in these burn pits or dumped into underground storage containers then leached into the soil and drinking water.
Dozens of pollutants still exist at concentrations higher than the legal limit for drinking water in Fort Ord’s aquifer, per AP. One such pollutant, TCE, is a known human carcinogen linked to kidney-cancer and with suspected links to several blood cancers, reports AP.
EPA listed Fort Ord among the most polluted places in the nation
In 1990, Fort Ord was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of most polluted places in the nation. AP reports that despite its listing by the EPA as a Superfund site and the numerous cancer-causing chemicals found in its drinking water and soil, the base at Ford Ord continued operating as normal for four more years.
Fort Ord has since shut down. The health impact of decades of pollution on the surrounding communities has been largely ignored by the government, according to AP. Million-dollar homes are reportedly being built, despite the continued presence of harmful chemicals in the soil and groundwater.
Sick Fort Ord veterans are denied healthcare benefits by VA
Although VA’s website agrees that contaminant exposure poses a danger to military personnel, but many veterans have found getting access to healthcare benefits for diseases associated with toxic pollution to be inordinately difficult, reports AP.
One veteran, Scott Lindquist, was diagnosed with three rare cancers, but was denied disability payments by the VA, which has leaned on a 25-year-old study as evidence of Fort Ord’s “safety,” per the Associated Press.
Federal government bases claims that Fort Ord is "safe" on decades-old data and outdated science
A 1996 report by the CDC concluded that “there were no likely past, present or future risks from exposures at Fort Ord.” However, this report allegedly relied on limited data and before the relationship between many of these chemicals and cancer was understood. The report also stated that “there could not be future health effects,” which biologist Peter deFur points out is “not possible to know.” No updated study has been requested at Fort Ord in the 25 years since the 1996 publication, according to the government.
The federal government still points to the 1996 report as evidence that the water at Fort Ord poses no risk to human health. However, Fort Ord veterans have a 35% higher rate of multiple myeloma diagnosis than the general US population.
Camp Lejeune and Other Lawsuits re Federal government dumping chemicals
Fort Ord is not the only military base to face problems caused by toxic chemicals. The military has acknowledged troops’ health could have been harmed by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where waste management practices mirrored those at Fort Ord. Lawsuits are underway to hold the military and the federal government responsible for putting servicemembers and civilians at risk.