Monday, October 20, 2014

Residents deserve answers at meeting in Newport 
Residents and former residents of the West Canada Valley region should plan to attend a meeting next week that will outline some possible reasons why the area has experienced higher-than-normal rates of certain types of pediatric and adult cancers.
Tuesday’s meeting in the West Canada Valley High School auditorium will feature James Bowers, a Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology research scientist with the state Department of Health. The session also aims to discuss the department’s investigation into the area to determine if there’s a cancer cluster. Community members will have a chance to have their questions and concerns addressed.
The people are owed some answers. Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, who represents the area, last year called on the state for an investigation following reports of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in four children in the West Canada Valley Central School District.
Ray Lenarcic, a retired Herkimer County Community College history professor, last year recalled that he and his students were involved with a citizens group 30 years ago and sought answers from the health department as to why so many children in this area were being diagnosed with rare cancers.
At the time, Lenarcic said, the group’s concern focused on the possibility of water contaminated with dioxin, which has been linked to reproductive issues and cancers. He has suggested the possibility that the experimental use of Agent Orange at Camp Drum — now Fort Drum — in the 1940s and 50s might have worked its way into the aquifer that serves the Kuyahoora Valley area. Agent Orange, a herbicide used widely as a defoliant during the Vietnam War, has been linked to birth defects and cancers, including non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
The more than 1,000-member “WCV-What’s Making Us Sick?” Facebook group is responsible for organizing Tuesday’s meeting. The group deserves credit — and answers — and we encourage them to maintain their vigilance until they get them.
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