An East Texas man is in the midst of a multi-million dollar lawsuit with the federal government, all stemming from medical conditions he says he was born with due to chemical exposure at a military base.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, industrial chemicals contaminated the water supply at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina over a span of thirty years.
Smith County resident Billy McMurray was born on the base in 1982. Now 31, he said he has dealt with a lifetime of medical problems, but did not know what caused them until just five years ago.
“I was able to dig and find records that I had a neural tube defect, spinal bifida and other various conditions, including organic brain disease,” McMurray said.
After analyzing birth certificates and hospital reports, he believes everything points back to his exposure to harmful chemicals while living on the base.
“We were living at Tarawa Terrace, which was one of the worst exposed areas for various chemicals,” McMurray said. My mom bathed and drank the water and she was exposed to it. My dad before that, whatever he got exposed to in Vietnam, carried down the line, so I got both sides of exposure in conceivance [sic].”
Environmental studies from multiple government agencies have since concluded that water on the base was highly contaminated with chemicals like benzene, PCE and TCE. Some reports suggested levels were as high as 280 times measures designated as healthy.
In 2012, Congress passed a law requiring medical care to veterans and families stationed on the base for more than 30 days through 1987.
McMurray now spends much of his day running a website and Facebook page, saying his focus is to help other just like him to get the info they need to help cover their own medical costs.
“I feel like it's a devotion,” McMurray said. “I found out there’s many more like me. That's the unique part, the uniqueness of others who have been exposed other than me. Those people need to be receiving benefits too.”
McMurray said the status of his lawsuit is pending, as he awaits a new federal report to be released on whether or not any of the deceases can be tied back to contamination on the base. That report is expected to be released as early as October.
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