The Standard-Speaker, © 2004

June 4, 2004

Is Schuylkill County really “the guinea pig for Pennsylvania,” as someone suggested Wednesday night during a meeting in Quakake?

Maybe not, but you can’t blame Still Creek residents for worrying. Three people who live along a stretch of Ben Titus Road less than a half-mile long have been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called polycythemia vera. That’s remarkable when you consider that the disease strikes one in 200,000 people.

Is it a sad coincidence, or is there something about Still Creek that residents should know?

Many residents agree with Frank Waksmunski, president of the newly formed Carbon County Groundwater Guardians, who thinks there’s something bad in the water. Still Creek is about two miles from the former McAdoo Associates metal reclamation facility, which the federal Environmental Protection Agency cleaned up after the polluted property was declared a Superfund site in the 80s.

Folks in Rush Township now want state and federal officials to undertake an extensive health study to try to determine how serious the cancer problem is and whether cancer cases are related to the McAdoo Associates site.

Mark Carmon of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says wells along the road were tested recently and the water was found to be fine.

Those tests, however, leave the cancer questions unanswered. There may be issues other than water that need to be investigated. We think a more extensive health study is warranted, Although previous studies have been conducted, Waksmunski points out that they were done years ago and cancers can take a long time to develop.

State Rep. Dave Argall has already said he will push state and federal officials to look into the matter. For Still Creek residents, such an investigation can’t come soon enough.