Clyde, OH—After reports indicated the presence of toxic chemicals at a park outside Green Springs—a few miles from Clyde, a town that is the home of a child “cancer cluster”—U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work with the Clyde community and the current park owners to investigate the site. A cancer cluster, as defined by the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is a “greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area over a defined period of time.” Since 1996, at least 37 children within a 12-mile wide circle of Clyde have been diagnosed with brain and central nervous system tumors, lymphoma, leukemia, and other forms of cancer, and four of these children have passed away.
“The Clyde community deserves answers regarding the cancer cluster that has sickened too many of its children. I applaud the EPA for its diligence in testing sites in and around Clyde, but it must do more to keep families informed about the results,” Brown said. “With the discovery of harmful chemicals at a local park, the EPA must now do it all it can to undertake further testing and investigation of this potentially toxic site.”
Last year, Brown wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden requesting that their agencies provide increased federal assistance to the Ohio EPA, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and the Sandusky County Health Department (SCHD).
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Health, and Sandusky County Health Department have worked in cooperation to determine the cause for high rates of childhood cancer in Clyde— by meeting with families of children affected by cancer, analyzing environmental conditions in the region, conducting air monitoring throughout the region, evaluating drinking water quality, evaluating area companies’ compliance with environmental laws, and scouring existing information looking for unusual environmental conditions in the region. Despite these considerable efforts, no cause has been determined.
Brown urged Congress to pass the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. The bill— which passed in 2009— established a national patient registry for pediatric cancer patients at the CDC. It also authorized additional funding for pediatric cancer research at the National Institutes of Health. Although funding has yet to be allocated to the NIH, Sen. Brown continues to fight to secure money for the program. In September 2009, Brown and Sen. Voinovich sent a letter urging Congressional colleagues to direct an additional $10 million for pediatric cancer research.
The full text of the letter is below and can also be seen here.
The Honorable Lisa Jackson
Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460
Dear Administrator Jackson:
I write regarding ongoing soil testing and possible environmental remediation efforts in and around Clyde, Ohio. As you know, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has undertaken environmental assessments at fourteen sites originally identified in the “Childhood Cancer among Residents of Eastern Sandusky County” report published jointly by the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Health.
It is my understanding that the findings of the site assessments were reported to EPA on September 28, 2012, and were made available on Region 5’s Eastern Sandusky County Assessment Project webpage in late October. Yet, community members were not informed of this report until mid-November. In light of the fact that the report indicated the discovery of carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls in soil samples, this oversight is particularly unsettling. I appreciate the diligence EPA has shown on this issue, but am disappointed that these results were not publicized and community members were not made aware of these findings as soon as they were publicly available.
Recent newspaper reports have also indicated there is a dispute between the former and current property owners regarding site access. As it relates to EPA’s commitment to oversee additional testing at the site, I urge the agency to work with all stakeholders to ensure that further testing be undertaken as soon as possible.
For too long community members have been searching for answers to the tragic loss of their loved ones—particularly the deaths of a troublingly high number of children to pediatric cancers. We owe it these families to accelerate testing and possible cleanup.