EPA rules out contamination in cancer cluster
CLYDE — After more than a decade of speculation about the potential environmental cause of a series of child cancer-cluster cases in eastern Sandusky County, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that 13 of 14 sites surveyed were not contaminated and that additional steps would not be pursued at those locations.
“Our investigation is continuing, but in terms of where we go from here, the good news is I’ve heard our technical people say they did not find anything at those 13 sites that is a threat to human health,” said Joshua Singer, a spokesman for the U.S EPA.
Eastern Sandusky Report
The EPA study, which officially began in February, sought to find an environmental cause that might have led to at least 37 childhood cancer cases that occurred within a 12-mile radius of Clyde since 1996.
That radius also included Vickery, Bellevue, eastern Fremont and four townships — York, Green Creek, Riley and Townsend.
Types of cancer that were contracted included brain and central nervous system tumors, lymphoma, and leukemia, among others.
The regional investigation included Whirlpool Corp.’s factory in Clyde and multiple dumps in the area, and involved gathering soil, air, and water samples. The 14th site, the McGrath Dump Site at 3966 CR in Vickery, was not investigated because access was denied to the U.S. EPA. The US EPA noted in its report it also did not locate “Meggett Landfill”, but conducted a record search.
Singer said ongoing investigations are focused on about 90 tips that the agency received to its hotline at 855–838-1304.
For Warren Brown, whose 11-year-old daughter, Alexa, died of cancer in 2009, the results of the study are “not too little, but they are too late.”
“I’m not surprised by their study at all,” Mr. Brown said of the EPA results. “Boots on the ground have to happen when the kids get sick. It doesn’t happen two or three years after the kids get sick. You don’t study an issue when you have 19 or 26 cases in front of you, you study the issue as soon as one or two or three cases are presented.”
Brown remains adamant that there was an environmental issue that led to the cancer cluster in Sandusky County, but asserts that officials didn’t act soon enough to discover the root cause.
“I will be convinced until I go to heaven and visit with Alexa that the issues that arose that caused all those children to get sick were caused by some environmental anomaly,” he said.
Brown’s daughter was one of the later cases added into the cluster — as defined by the Ohio Health Department prior to the U.S. EPA study. The Ohio EPA also conducted its own testing of air and water in the area prior to the U.S. EPA study this year, and found nothing conclusive.
Eleven cases of various childhood cancers were bought to the attention of the Sandusky County Health Department by a school nurse with Clyde-Green Springs Schools nearly a decade ago before the ODH was brought in, and it conducted a statistical study of the area before environmental sampling was conducted in the region.
At least five children and young adults have died from pediatric cancers since in the area– although not all may have been included in the cluster. Information on families in the ODH cluster is not public.
According to the U.S. EPA, the sites that were tested this year included:
•Amert Lagoon, CR 213, Clyde.
•Bellevue City Dump, 610 CR 328, Bellevue.
•Clyde City Dump, McPherson Highway, Clyde.
•Formulated Products, 110 East St., Clyde.
•Golembiowski Dump, CR 179, Clyde.
•Green Creek Township Dump, Clyde.
•Leach Dump, 1672 CR 236, Clyde.
•Riley Township Dump, 31155 CR 232, Fremont.
•Townsend Township Dump, CR 322, Vickery.
•Whirlpool Manufacturing, 119 Birdseye St., Clyde.
•Wickerham Drum site, 853 Main St., Clyde.
•York Township Dump, CR 205, Bellevue.