Cancer cluster in Pompton Lakes?

August 15, 2011 3:12:24 PM PDT
Coincidence or cancer cluster?

That's the question facing some folks in New Jersey, where women in one town had 38% more hospitalizations for cancerous tumors than women anywhereelse in the state - or in six surrounding towns.

"On my block 7 women have died of cancer. Three people have brain tumors," Lisa Rissiola, Citizens for a Clean Pompton Lakes, said.

Deaths and life-threatening illnesses that the state health department is looking deeper and deeper into in Pompton Lakes, weighing whether or not ground contamination from the old DuPont munitions site is still costing health and taking lives here at alarming rates.

"You don't know when you're gonna be the next," Ruth Paez said.

Lisa and Ruth are longtime activists, trying to get Pompton Lakes designated a superfund site.

Clean-ups in some form and level have been on and off for decades in Pompton Lakes, but the latest health department report is troubling to these activists.

From 2006 to 2010, 169 local women were treated for cancerous tumors. That's 47 cases above what would be seen as normal. In men, 118 cases, where 95 would be normal. And in women who'd just given birth, 11 were treated for birth defect related complications, when slightly less than 3 would have been expected.

Those figures higher than any surrounding towns, that saw no higher than usual cases.

"My mom lives here too. My father died of an extremely rare form of leukemia and kidney failure," Paez said. "(My husband's) mother died of cancer, his father died of cancer, we live day by day thinking what, are we gonna die, get cancer?"

Signs are posted, warning you not to eat fish from the contaminated lake. Pipes ventilate the ground.