2004.06.02 – GROWING CONCERN OVER CANCER CASES IN SCHUYLLKILL COUNTY

GROWING CONCERN OVER CANCER CASES IN SCHUYLKILL COUNTY NEIGHBORHOOD
By Bob Reynolds
WNEP TV, © 2004
http://www.wnep.com/Global/story.asp?S=1913517

Wednesday, June 2, 2004, 5:15 p.m.

Twelve cancer cases diagnosed within two miles and now neighbors want to know if a former toxic waste dump making them sick. Government officials insist the dump in Schuylkill County was cleaned up but neighbors who live along one rural road worry their health problems are related to what was dumped at the site.

Betty Keister, 76, lives with her 81 year old husband near Tamaqua and worries about her health. Both developed the same type of cancer, a form of leukemia. “Our doctor is very concerned because he says it’s one in a million in a family would get this together,” said Betty,

The Keister live along Ben Titus Road. An environmental group said it’s documented a dozen cancer cases on the road, all within a mile and a half. “I believe the chances of that happening randomly is very small,” said Frank Wakamunski of Groundwater Guardians.

Twenty years ago, not far from the neighborhood a toxic waste dump was discovered: 7,000 drums, some containing cancer causing chemicals. The mess was cleaned up and a federal study said the chemicals did not affect people’s health. But the number of cancers on Ben Titus Road is hard to ignore.

“They don’t call it cancer alley or anything like that but people are scared,” said Wakamunski. The state said right now it doesn’t see a link between the former toxic waste dump and the cancers. “I think we can keep pounding away at the DEP, the EPA and the Department of Health and if people know of similar cases to please let us know so we can begin to put the puzzle pieces together,” said State Representative David Argall of Schuylkill County.

“There’s small children in the area and I wouldn’t want anything to happen to the children. They have a lifetime in front of them,” added Betty Kester.

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