US agrees to pay billions to Marines affected by toxic water

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration has agreed to provide disability benefits totaling more than $2 billion to veterans who had been exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Military personnel must have served at Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1953 and December 1987.

Beginning in March, the cash payouts from the Department of Veterans Affairs may supplement VA health care already being provided to eligible veterans.

The estimated taxpayer cost is $2.2 billion over five years. The VA estimates that as many as 900,000 service members were potentially exposed.

The rule covers active duty, Reserve and National Guard members who developed one of eight diseases.

The decision was quietly made public Thursday with a notice in the government’s official journal, Federal Register.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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