Channel 2 TV report on high cancer rates

HIGHER THAN EXPECTED CANCER RATES CAUSING CONCERN IN TONAWANDA

 

State health officials released results of their study Thursday night with some disturbing conclusions. The findings include increased rates of colorectal, breast and thyroid cancers among residents living in the 14150 and 14217 zip codes in the Town of Tonawanda; rates that are ten percent higher than the national average.

"We found an increased number of certain cancers that have been associated with exposure to radiation," said New York State Department of Health spokesperson Aura Weinstein.

For now, they cannot say for certain whether those rates are related to radioactive uranium ore buried at several sites in the town or uranium dust at the former Linde site off Sheridan Drive. The uranium was used to produce atomic bombs during World War II. Cleanup has been going on for over two years but the health department study is the first evidence to date of a possible health effect.

Erie County Legislature Chairman Charles Swanick is asking the health department to expand the study into the City of Tonawanda and says future results may have long term impact. "If there is, when they're done with their studies, a direct relationship between the two, then I think we have to ensure the population where this material is, that they are safe," he says. "We're going to have to offer some kind of testing and screening and some other things to ensure the health of the public."

Chairman Swanick also criticized the state for failing to adequately publicize Thursday night's meeting, only four citizens showed up. Another public hearing will be held but the date has yet to be determined. This time, affected residents will receive a notice in the mail.

If a link can be demonstrated between the radioactive material and cancer cases in that area, it's possible a class action lawsuit might be filed against the government, which ordered Linde to process the uranium.

Copyright © 2000 by WGRZ-TV Buffalo

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