By Chris Parker
The Morning Call Inc., Copyright 2004
Reprinted With Permission

July 22, 2004

A door-to-door survey of the health of people living along a four-mile stretch of Ben Titus Road in Rush Township near a former Superfund site will help craft a state Health Department study of the area.

Three people who live near the McAdoo Associates site in neighboring Kline Township site say they have been diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disease called polycythemia vera, a disease that typically strikes one in every 200,000 people.

The rare cancer thickens blood and increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and a form of leukemia.

On Saturday, Tamaqua Area School District nurse Cathy Miorelli and another woman knocked on doors along Ben Titus Road, which stretches through Quakake, in Rush Township, and other communities, to distribute the survey.

People also can pick up copies of the survey at the Titus Mini-Mart on Route 309 in Rush Township.

So far, about 15 surveys – which include questions about cancer diagnoses and exposure to hazardous substances such as pesticides, solvents, fuels and radiation – have been collected, Miorelli said Wednesday.

The results will be compiled and used to help the state develop a study it plans to do of the health of people living in the area.

Representatives from the Health Department and the Department of Environmental Protection will meet at 1 p.m. today with residents and Carbon County Groundwater Guardians founder Frank Waksmunski at the Tamaqua office of state Rep. David G. Argall, R-Schuylkill.

Residents asked for the study because they are worried that chemicals from the site of the former McAdoo Associates, a metal reclamation and incineration facility and chemical dumping ground, and other industries are making people sick.

The community is about two miles from the 8-acre site where McAdoo Associates operated from 1975 until a state permit was revoked in 1979.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found the soil there contaminated with heavy metals and various volatile organic compounds.

The site had about 7,000 drums and six above-ground tanks. In 1983, the EPA placed the site on its Superfund cleanup list, and two years later it was named the worst site in the state and 26th-worst in the nation.

In May 1990, EPA removed about 90 truckloads of contaminated soil from two ”hot spots” at the site, taking the dirt to a landfill in Alabama. EPA capped the site and is monitoring the area .

The agency reports there was no need for further action. EPA said the geology of the area shunted any leached polluted water west to the Little Schuylkill River.

A 1993 study of cancer death rates by the government concluded the Superfund site did not cause a rise in the disease.

A recent DEP study tested four wells in the Quakake community – three along Ben Titus Road – but found no contamination of the water. The agency tested for more than 100 substances, including mercury, aluminum, lead, and arsenic.

Argall, who attended a meeting of concerned residents in early June, wrote to the Health Department to ask for a study.

On June 11, Michelle S. Davis of the Health Department wrote back to Argall, agreeing to do the health study, but said it would have to encompass more people than the community of Quakake. The study probably would include everyone living in ZIP code 18252, which also would include Tamaqua.