Victims' families start Clyde Cancer Cluster investigation - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Victims' families start Clyde Cancer Cluster investigation

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Press Conference Press Conference
CLYDE, OH (WOIO) -

Family members of victims of the Clyde Cancer Cluster are starting their own investigation into what has killed their children in Sandusky County.

Wednesday afternoon, parents held press conference in Clyde to discuss their plan to track down what's killing their children.  So far 7 have died and more than 30 have become sick.

They say the families are devastated to learn the results of a United States Environmental Protection Agency report that was recently released.  The report discloses that Whirlpool Park, built for children in the Clyde area to play, is also a dumping ground full of PCBs and Toxic Metals filled sludge.  The sludge is described in the EPA Report to be over nine feet in depth in places.  The families are equally outraged to learn that the fact that the Whirlpool Park was used as a dumping site was not disclosed by Whirlpool itself, but rather was discovered once the US EPA set up a confidential hotline where people could call and inform the EPA of toxic dumping sites in the area. 

A full copy of the report can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/region5/cleanup/easternsandusky/pdfs/whirlpool_sa_report.pdf.

Several of the families with loved ones lost or ill in the Cancer Cluster have retained victims' rights attorneys Alan W. Mortensen and Dustin Lance of Salt Lake City.  Mortensen and Lance will work with local Ohio attorneys and will not only investigate whether the Whirlpool Park may be a contributing cause of their loved ones' cancer, but to also go back and reinvestigate the 14 other dump sites earlier investigated by the Ohio EPA, along with other clues that may have been missed, including the Vickery Waste Management Deep Well Injection Site.  Mr. Mortensen grew up in Sandusky County and graduated from Gibsonburg High School.  While his firm is located in Salt Lake City, he and has worked with his partner Mr. Lance on several catastrophic cases in all parts of the world. 

"Obviously, it is upsetting to learn that such significant amounts of poison sludge are dumped anywhere.  But to either dump it in proximity or cover it over with a children's park and a swimming pool filled with water coming from the very spot where the dumping occurred, is an outrage!" said Mr. Mortensen.  "It calls into question what really was at the other dump sites and other clues that were overlooked or not discovered until the US EPA stepped in, to determine the cause of this Cancer Cluster." states Mr. Lance.

In regards to parents of Clyde Cancer Cluster Victims starting their own investigation Whirlpool released the following statement:

"We appreciate the concerns of the community. We have been members of this community for more than 60 years and employ thousands of local residents.
Since being notified by the USEPA of their test results, Whirlpool has worked diligently and persistently with the current owner of this...property, his lawyer and have even solicited the help of the USEPA to gain access to the site to conduct appropriate surveys and additional testing in partnership with the state and federal environmental agencies. However, the property owner and his lawyer have denied all of our requests for access to the site under reasonable conditions.
We are hopeful that the voices of these families will encourage the property owner and his lawyers to allow Whirlpool onto the property to begin the site characterization in coordination with state and federal authorities. We are prepared to move forward immediately with the first steps of the evaluation once granted access to the property."

---Kristine Vernier, Whirlpool Corporation Spokesperson

The company also sent this letter to employees regarding their former property Whirlpool Park:

Yesterday evening we saw news reports that a group of local residents has hired a lawyer to represent their interests related to the USEPA test results ...

from the former Whirlpool Park (which we sold in 2008). We believe they are planning a press conference today at 1:00 p.m.

Since being notified by the USEPA of their test results, Whirlpool has worked dil...igently and persistently with the current owner of this property, his lawyer and has even solicited the help of the USEPA to gain access to the site to conduct appropriate surveys and additional testing in partnership with the state and federal environmental agencies. However, the property owner and his lawyer have denied all of our requests for access to the site under reasonable conditions.

We are hopeful that the voices of these families will encourage the property owner and his lawyers to allow Whirlpool onto the property to begin the site characterization in coordination with state and federal authorities. We are prepared to move forward immediately with the first steps of the evaluation once granted access to the property.

Below are some of the actions we have taken to resolve this issue:
•Whirlpool made contact with the property owner within days of receiving notification from the USEPA of their test results. Since then we have had continuous, respectfulcontact with he and his lawyers requesting permission to enter the property, and have been denied access to the site under reasonable conditions.
•As we had communicated to the USEPA, timely access to the site would have allowed us to complete the first steps of the environmental review by mid to late September.
•We have been working on an ongoing basis, and in a transparent manner, with USEPA and Ohio EPA.
Both agencies have indicated their support for our working with the Ohio EPA under their Voluntary Action Program (VAP).
•During our conversations with state and federal officials, and with the property owner and his attorney, we have been clear that once testing and validation were complete, we would, where appropriate, accept all responsibility and expenses for remediation of those materials found to be placed on the site during our ownership. We would complete any requiredcleanup consistent with practices of the day.
•In August, we set up a phone line for community members to contact us if they had questions.
•We have reached out to city and county officials, along with state and federal authorities.
•We have cooperated fully with the USEPA on six Whirlpool-owned sites, which were found to be within compliance standards.

We continue to work to gain access to the site to conduct the studies under the Ohio EPA Voluntary Action Program:
•We have asked the USEPA to intervene and compel the property owner to allow us access to the site.
•We have discussed the possibility of getting a USEPA mediator assigned to help facilitate the discussions with the property owner and his lawyer so we may move forward with our environmental study.
•To help speed up the process, we have proposed to the property owner and his lawyer the possibility of our repurchasing the property.

Meanwhile, it is important to understand, that we truly believe there is no current exposure risk posed by this substance. As stated in USEPA materials, PCBs are a very stable substance that does not readily migrate, and the use and disposal of PCBs was a common practice, and within the laws and standards of the 1950s and 1960s.

We continue to work toward gaining access to the site, and will continue to work with state and federal agencies to abide by the law, and address the issues on the site until they are satisfactorily resolved in the best interest of the community and its residents.

Sincerely, Dan O'Brien, Plant Leader , Whirlpool Clyde

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