By Donald R. Serfass, dserfass@tnonline.com
The Times News, © 2006

January 17, 2006

Tomorrow evening, the Department of Health will present results of a recently-completed study that looked at the incidence of health and cancer in a wide geographic area, including Rush Township and the Still Creek Reservoir area.

The results will be announced on Wednesday at 7 p.m. inside Hometown Fire Co., Route 54, Rush Township.

The study was requested by state Rep. David G. Argall after several meetings and discussions with area residents and groups.

The trouble was first uncovered almost three years ago when an environmental group in Carbon County started asking questions about the large number of cancer cases in the local area. The Carbon County Groundwater Guardians’ investigation uncovered numerous cases of polycythemia vera along Ben Titus Rd. in Rush Township.

The condition is a rare and acquired bone marrow cancer. According to medical experts, the illness can be otherwise found in those exposed to benzene, or perhaps morticians exposed to embalming fluid, but it is not normally found in the general population.

Portions of Still Creek are situated downhill from McAdoo Associates, a former mining area where illegal dumping of hazardous waste created a toxic Superfund site.

Two other Superfund sites are nearby – Eastern Diversified Metals and Tonolli Mfg. The three locations were contaminated despite oversight by the state Dept. of Environmental Protection.

Adjacent to Ben Titus Road is Still Creek Reservoir, a surface water supply that serves residents of Tamaqua and nearby areas after going through a filtration process.

A Department of Health spokesperson indicated two years ago that a cause and effect relationship would be difficult to prove, even after a study is conducted.

In addition, critics questioned the state’s approach to the study from the start, with some saying that the wide geographic sampling selected by the state would guarantee results that are watered down.The session will be open to the public.