Water pollution is one of the greatest concerns in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that nearly half of the country’s streams and one-third of its lakes are contaminated. This has naturally affected the municipal water supply.

Studies have found that at least 50% of the US tap water is polluted with per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. These chemicals are not only toxic to the human body and the environment, but they do not easily break down.

The problem of water pollution has plagued the world mainly since the Industrial Revolution. Today, there is no telling as to what may be present in drinking water. The World Health Organization (WHO) found that at least 1.7 billion people worldwide relied on a source of polluted drinking water in 2022.

Speaking exclusively of the US, the nation has had its fair share of major water contamination events. In this article, we will discuss three such incidents in the past 100 years that altered the course of history.

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

The water contamination tragedy of Camp Lejeune must occupy the first place since it is the worst-known disaster of its kind. The US Marine Corps Base of Camp Lejeune was established in the 1940s for combat training purposes. All seemed to be going well for three decades, but a silent killer was lurking underground.

An offsite dry cleaning company was continuously releasing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as by-products. The same seeped into the ground, thereby polluting the supply water of three tanks – Holcomb Boulevard, Tarawa Terrace, and Hadnot Point.


From the early 1950s up to the late 1980s, residents of the Camp consumed the toxic waters, unaware of the health risks involved. In 1985, all three contaminated water tanks were shut down. In the years that followed, the repercussions of the pollution came to light.

As per TorHoerman Law, veterans and other Camp Lejeune residents suffered from deadly conditions like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, infertility, aplastic anemia, and more. Nearly one million victims were made eligible for free medical aid under the Obama administration.

In August 2022, President Joe Biden passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA). It permitted all victims the right to receive legal justice in the form of administrative claims. If no resolution was made within six months, they could seek Camp Lejeune compensation via a lawsuit.

Today, it’s going to be nearly two years since the CLJA passed. The Navy is looking at millions and billions in claims settlements. Since no jury trials will be held, the plaintiff’s counsel is preparing for bench trials to be held later this year. The 1,662 lawsuits and 170,000+ claims still do not give a clear picture of the extent of this tragedy.

Woburn, Massachusetts

The water contamination disaster that occurred in Woburn, Massachusetts, is somewhat related to the Camp Lejeune incident. This catastrophe also involved contaminants like trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene.

In May 1979, it was discovered that barrels of the aforementioned industrial fluids had leaked into the Aberjona River. When the water wells were examined, high concentrations of both organic compounds were found in two of them serving the community.

After the pollutants and their source were detected, the state authorities began investigating the threats involved to humans and the environment. Sadly, evidence came in just within a year. By May 1980, at least 12 cases of childhood leukemia were reported in East Woburn.

A direct link between these cases and the water contamination incident existed since residents of this area had been consuming water from the polluted wells. In 1982, a civil lawsuit was filed against the tragedy’s perpetrator – WR Grace & Company. It was resolved in 1986, with the plaintiffs receiving $8 million for their losses.


By this time, it had been confirmed that children were developing leukemia due to toxic water consumption. Besides, other residents reported being injured by cancers of the urinary tract, prostate gland, kidneys, and liver. A few cases of birth defects were also reported at the time.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico

This tragic incident occurred in April 2010. There was an explosion in the Deepwater Horizon oil drill located in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, 11 men died on the spot, and the rig sank to the bottom of the sea, leaking oil on its way.

It was only capped after three months. By this time, an estimated 134 million gallons of oil had already spilled. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is considered to be the largest tragedy of its kind in US history.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) states that major damage occurred to the marine ecosystem, including species of sea turtles and fish. The marine industry took a significant blow after this incident. In 2011, a grant of $1 billion was passed for an early restoration project. In 2015, even the ecosystem was restored with an $8.8 billion grant.

We just saw how a moment of negligence can have far-reaching consequences. Sometimes, it may be sheer bad luck. However, the US has seen enough water contamination tragedies to implement strict regulations and guidelines. Only then it is possible to imagine a safe future.

By Bradford

Bradford is an entertainment afficionado, interested in all the latest goings on in the celebrity and tech world. He has been writing for years about celebrity net worth and more!