WASHINGTON The Obama administration has agreed to provide disability benefits to military veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, according to an official notice published on Thursday.
Veterans, former reservists and former National Guard members who served for at least 30 days at the U.S. Marine Corps Base from 1953 to 1987 and have been diagnosed with one of eight diseases are eligible, according to the document published in the Federal Register, the government's official journal. (bit.ly/2j6cfdz)
The Associated Press, which first reported the story, said the estimated cost to taxpayers of the added benefits would total $2.2 billion over five years.
The additional payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs would start in March and go to veterans who developed adult leukemia, aplastic anemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Parkinson's disease, the notice said.
The department has estimated that up to 900,000 service members were potentially exposed to the tainted water at the base, the AP reported.
Contaminants included the volatile organic compounds trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, benzene and vinyl chloride.
(Reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Eric Beech)