Friday, July 29, 2005

Health Department Meeting Overview

Last night at Avon Lake High School, Robert Indian from the Ohio Department of Health gave a presentation of the current status of the cancer study being conducted. Before getting into specifics, I wanted to let everyone know that this study was not about the environment of Avon Lake. I feel like most residents in that the city and the Lorain City Health Dept have been ignoring the environmental concerns of this city.

We were potentially mislead to think that this meeting would also include possible causes of cancer related to the soil, air, or water.

It is also interesting to note that this study was changed to cover all cancers, not the cluster leukemia cases that have been happening more frequently since 2002 (six in 2003-04 alone!) which the study did not cover. This was the initial reason for the study, to find the cause of the cluster happening NOW, not in 1996-2002! Keep in mind that there were 18 total new cases of cancer in 03-04. Yet, Robert Indian has assured us that this is not significant in any way.

Below are the highlights of the meeting:
  • Melanoma of the skin is higher then expected from 96-2002.
  • Benzene and Arsenic can cause melanoma as well as exposure to the sun. Could this be a link to the power plant?
  • The environment only causes 5% of all cancers in the US.
  • Childhood cancer is believed to be caused by the mother (virus, something in the mothers body, etc..).
  • The leading theory of childhood cancer in communities is rapid growth of the community. Increased traffic and/or pollution from cars can cause more cancer rates (benzene in gas exhaust).
  • Many people spoke up about the BF Goodrich illegal dumping and other environmental concerns.
  • Robert Indian was caught several times avoiding the real questions that were asked.
  • This was not a study of comparison with other local communities like Westlake, Sheffield, Bay, is not significant from these communities.
  • There is a overall childhood cancer issue in all of Northeast Ohio.
  • Most recent data from the state is 2002 and some data from 2003. Even in this high tech world it takes years to compile this data.
  • He "entertained" the idea of comparing Avon Lake to other communities.
  • No interviews were conducted of the people with cancer in Avon Lake. This was not part of the study. This study only compared statistics of cancer with the state and the rest of the country.
  • There are plans to conduct a local mapping project to include interviews and locations of where the cancer cases are in Avon Lake. This is expected to begin in September.
  • A gentleman attacked the mayor about a official report about the Avon Lake dump from the 80's. He said the mayor has ignored him in the past about this issue and the report. The mayor had no idea about this report.
The Lorain City Health Department needs a reality check

Who is Terry Tomaszewski from the Lorain City Health Department? He was quoted several times during this meeting saying "I had no idea there may be an environmental problem". Also, many people that I know have voiced their concern about potential environmental issues to the city of Avon Lake, Lorain City Health Dept, and the Ohio EPA. Is Larry living on another planet to say that this is the first time he has ever heard anyone ever ask about any environmental concern in Avon Lake? His title is Health Commissioner of Lorain. Why is he avoiding the environmental issues? We elect these people to represent us, shouldn't they be more concerned for our heath?

Where to see the report?

To view the documentation about the study, you can download them from the Lorian City Heath Dept website by clicking here. You will need Adobe Reader to view the PDF files.

Questions to be answered
  • Why hasn't an environmental assessment been done yet? What are we waiting for?
  • Why is the Health Department so oblivious to a problem here given the pollution from all the industry in this city?
  • Why haven't other communities been tested? Not only for cancer concerns but for the effects of industry in Avon Lake on their communities?
  • What is the effect of benzene in our community?
Please add your comments by clicking on the comments link below this post.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Public Forum with the Mayor - July 28th

There will be a public forum held with Robert Indian and the Avon Lake mayor on July 28 at 7:00pm. The forum will be held at Avon Lake High School in the Auditorium. Stay tuned to this website for additional details or changes.

We have been told that Robert Indian will lead a presentation of the cancer study results by State Health Department.

Hopefully we can also ask questions about what the city, community and industry can do to make Avon Lake and the surrounding communities a safer place to live. We will never be able to point the finger at just one thing - there are too many possiblilities out there. But what we can say is what precautionary steps can be taken to reduce possible exposure to pollutants, chemicals, etc?

It's rumored that 11 kids had leukemia some 30 years ago. Again, in 1992, the health department was in Avon Lake doing an ovarian cancer study on girls diagnosed with cancer between 1987-92. The health department is back again. As a community we should do everything possible to prevent history from repeating itself.
  • We know that the power plant is not doing nearly as much as it could to reduce pollution.
  • There are concerns that the water intake point is too close to the shore.
  • There are concerns that there could be soil contamination due to the landfill.
We encourage everyone to go to the public forum and ask questions as to what steps can be taken.

Meeting updates

It should also be noted that the front page of the July 13th issue of The Press says that "The City of Westlake was used as a control group" for the cancer study by the department of health. Additionally, Mayor Rob Berner is stated as saying that the preliminary results for the study are "favorable".

Potential Water Quality Issues

A while back we found out that someone from the EPA told Bay Village residents that he would drink water from Cuyahoga County but not from Lorain. Why? He said that the water is pumped from over three miles out in Cuyahoga County and only about a 1/2 mile out of Lorain (Avon Lake). We didn't really think that this was very significant but some residents have been saying that with all of the industry in Avon Lake, it's not good that the water plant is taking in water so close by. But the water is filtered and checked and rechecked, right? Some have been saying that not everything is filtered out of public drinking water, such as PVC's. So what are the chances that something like that could happen?

Last week we stumbled up on an EPA site that listed on January 2, 1992 BF Goodrich released 81 pounds of vinyl chloride and didn't report it to the proper authorities immediately. Again, on November 18, 1992 BF Goodrich once again failed to immediately report an 825 pound release of vinyl chloride. They were fined. If I'm not mistaken, we think that the release means down the drain, into the sewers and into the lake. Just a 1/2 mile away water is being pumped in for us to drink. (Not that there is any connection, but it is an eerie coincidence that the Health Department did the last study on rare ovarian cancers in 1992.)

Do spills ever happen that aren't reported? How often does the water department monitor for things like PVC's?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Current Health Threats

Miller Road Landfill: We are looking into how we can get the EPA to pay attention to this highly polluted superfund landfill. We need soil samples done. We'll keep you posted on the plan of action regarding this issue. While the EPA has listed this as a superfund site, it has been put to the bottom of the priority list because of other more urgent government projects. It should be noted that while this is not "advertised " as a superfund site by the city and local land developers (Gamer Construction), new homes on Miller Rd. have gone up without question near this site.

Water: We believe the drinking water is okay, but cannot say with 100% certainty. As of last month, Beth Darnell with the water department reported that she has reports waiting for the health department but has not been questioned by anyone. You would think that the health department would include the water department in their study. If you would like to tour the water department, look at reports, or ask questions, Beth Darnell would be happy to help. One reason why the drinking water is okay is the fact that they supply water to 80% of Lorain County.

Radon: Radon is known only to cause lung cancer. Get your basements checked. It is a problem that is easily corrected.

Power Plant: The Avon Lake power plant is very old and has been grandfathered in over and over again. An electrostatic burner was installed in the late 70's or 80's and may be losing efficiency. Two low nitrous oxide burners were installed last July. It needs a sulfur dioxide scrubber (a cost of approximately 1% of revenues). According to the Ohio Environmental Council, the power plant ranks at approximately 5 for pollution in the state of Ohio. In the late 90's, it was purchased by Reliant Energy out of Texas. Have they been maintaining it well? Low sulfur coal can be burned. In 2002, it total releases of all chemicals was over 3,000,000. This includes mercury, arsenic, lead and other cancer causing agents. Pollution controls are readily available.

Noveon and Polyone: This is a plastics company (ironically in the "area of concern" which is the Power Plant and Miller Road Landfill) that was orignally BF Goodrich which has been fined as recent as 2003 for controls violations and not keeping track of monitoring records of chemical discharges.

Ford Plant: More detail and research is needed about the pollution Ford contributes to Avon Lake. The most recent numbers of chemicals released last year was approximately 20,000 pounds.

Please add your comments if you have any additional information about these threats.

"Cancer in Paradise" Article Reactions

Reaction from the Scene Magazine article. Letters are from this weeks Scene Magazine letters section:

Subject: Toxic Eden A timely tale

"My husband and I have been house-hunting for over a year. On Thursday, I looked at a beautiful house in Avon Lake ["Cancer in Paradise," June 22]. The owner casually mentioned that she was moving because her husband was ill. Later that day, I bought a Cleveland Magazine to read the stats on all the neighborhoods. I noticed Avon Lake's housing did not appreciate nearly as much as Avon. In fact, the appreciation was so low, I thought this was strange, considering how close they are to each other. I would have thought that Avon Lake would be more desirable, because of its proximity to the lake.

My intuition was telling me to pay attention, but I wasn't quite sure how much I should be concerned until I picked up a Scene the next day. I was completely shocked and exceptionally grateful to read your article. I feel like you saved my life. It nauseated me to think how close we came to purchasing a house we might never be able to sell. In any case, I am very glad you wrote this article when you did."

Subject: You gotta have chutzpah

"Your article was great ["Cancer in Paradise," June 22]! Thank you for reporting the truth and for talking with so many people. I am looking into the landfill and contacting the appropriate people to see what we can do. Thank you for having the chutzpah to put politics aside and report the dirty truth!"

Abnormal Cancer Rate and Robert Indian

Last July, the Press reported that 7 children in Avon Lake were diagnosed with leukemia in a 2.5 year timeframe when the normal rate of occurance is 1 per 4+ years. Since last July, We know of at least one other diagnosis. We know of two brain tumors, one rare muscular cancer, and a back tumor. When you read that there are 20 people in avon lake with leukemia, two of which are minors, they are referring to the health department study for 1996-2001. We are not sure of the total number of leukemias diagnosed after 2001. The study has been expanded to include all cancers and, according to Robert Indian, will follow with a study on MS. Many think MS rates seem higher than normal but we do not have any data.

A few months ago, several reporters learned that Robert Indian with the health department never finds a link to cancers. One replied in an e-mail by stating "yes, I'm well aware of Robert Indians track record and the internal politics at the health department. While many people in our community keep saying "if there's something wrong, the health department will find it" we thought that it's important for people to know about the health department. It was unfortunatly never reported. Finally, Joe Tone with Scene magazine told the full story in this recent article.

Why this website?

A recent article in the Cleveland Scene Magazine entitled "Cancer in Paradise" opened up my eyes to the rumors that I have been hearing ever since I became an Avon Lake resident three years ago. While there is no "documented" proof that there is a cancer outbreak/issue in Avon Lake, I found it difficult to find out the facts about this issue not only from the Internet and news media but from the city as well. I took it upon myself to contact other Avon Lake residents that have the same concerns as I do, find out what information is out there, and post this information.

While there is much speculation about a local government and state coverup, this website will just show the information, truths and evidence that myself and other residents have gathered. Additionally, I will provide links to articles and research found on the Internet that pertain to the Avon Lake cancer issue.

I encourage you and other Avon Lake residents to make comments on the articles and research that will be posted.