Toms River Childhood Cancer Advocates Rip EPA Study
Toms River parents and health advocates who banded together when children’s cancer rates mushroomed nearly 20 years ago find little reason for vindication in a newly-completed study by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The report, being issued at Toms River Town Hall tonight, details a 10-year study aimed at determining possible links between pediatric cancer rates in the township and compounds known as SAN-trimer that were discovered in chemically-contaminated wells.
Linda Gillick, who leads the Toms River Citizens’ Action Committee for Childhood Cancer Cluster, calls the results disappointing, and the study flawed.
The EPA subjected lab rats in various stages of maturity, including pregnant ones, to draw comparisons to estimated human consumption. The chemicals entered water systems through underground leaks at the former Ciba-Geigy plant and through the dumping of a truckload of waste chemicals on the old Reich Farm tract.
The rise in childhood cancer rates and discovery of the chemical spills unleashed a torrent of heated response and action by parents and their supporters starting in 1996. It hastened Ciba’s closure and departure from the township.
Today, the TRCAC-CCC’s quarterly meetings draw a handful of spectators at best – but they remain as committed as they were then.
“The problem,” says Gillick, “is that they could never replicate” the chemical being ingested in the township, “with the radiologicals and all the other compounds that were in our water at the time.” She likens it to a generic substitute for a brand-name prescription medicine.
“We said from the beginning that this would be flawed,” Gillick insists. “I think what this proves…is that since the water was removed from our drinking supply, the amount of cancer in children has drastically been reduced. And that, in itself, tells everything.”
Gillick credits United Water Toms River and Dow Chemical Company as the most consistent private-sector participants. United Water representatives, she says, meet with the group monthly. Dow, representing its Union Carbide subsidiary that took responsibility for the Reich Farm incident, sends researchers to each TRCAC-CCC meeting.
The Environmental Protection Agency and its report looms as the focus of tonight’s meeting at 7 PM in Toms River Town Hall. Members of the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services, United Water, and Dow are also expected. It’s open to anyone interested in watchdogging the township’s health through its water infrastructure.
Gillick says that after tonight’s presentation, the group will plan a presentation for the entire Toms River community in the near future.
View the report at http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/go/14366. There is a lengthy list, so scroll down to TR-573.