And for that he's extremely grateful. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local. When Toms River welcomed the Swiss chemical company Ciba-Geigy (now known as Novartis) in 1952, they did not know that the company had left towns in both Switzerland and Ohio due to complaints about air and water pollution. Families Settle for Childhood Cancer Claims In Toms River, N.J. A settlement has been reached between 69 families in Toms River, N.J., and two chemical companies and a water company the families blame for environmental pollution they claim led to dozens of cases of childhood cancers. Jon Gorin, a project manager for the EPA, agreed acrylonitrile is a known carcinogen but said it was never found in the more than 1,000 samples of groundwater collected from the farm. In 1989 it ordered Ciba-Geigy to begin cleaning up the site and the groundwater., Owners of the Reich Farm had leased part of the property in 1971 to an independent waste hauler. Parents of stricken children are convinced that that clandestine disposal, along with dumping by chemical giant Ciba-Geigy Corp., which once called Toms River its home, caused an abnormally high number of childhood cancer cases in the 1980s and 1990s. Gillick and several other residents gathered at a special meeting of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday night to question those findings and express their frustration. So, I was extremely curious to find out more. Is Microwave Popcorn Still a Health Risk? There are other cancer clusters that occur without any … Actor Danny DeVito’s production company, Jersey Films 2nd Avenue, has optioned the screen rights to a 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning non-fiction book about industrial waste in a Jersey Shore town that caused a childhood cancer cluster.. They said SAN Trimer wasn't studied in its proper form and it may not even be the culprit. Find NJ.com on Facebook. A second cluster, involving cases of leukemia and brain cancer among girls in Toms River, New Jersey, may be linked to two Superfund sites nearby, but that link is debatable. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Toms river cancer cluster. Read our. In the 1960s, the lower river was found to have been polluted for many years from the open discharge of waste from a Ciba Geigy dye manufacturing plant. Linda Gillick, a spokeswoman for the families, said, "The numbers do not reflect, in any way, what the families and the children went through. The toms river was known as goose creek until it was renamed in the early 18th century either for english captain william toms farmer and ferryman thomas luker or a native american named tom. " The money is surely no consolation to the 15 families whose children have died, and to the new cases of childhood cancer being diagnosed each year. Fagin does an excellent job of explaining how events unfolded and his particular writing style which included other illustrative historical accountings is effective in helping the layman understand the scientific process. All rights reserved (About Us). Several residents said that the National Toxicology Program, which conducted the study, wasted its time and money. As for the water being monitored closely, well lets just say you can't trust anyone. "I do get the sense that you're making light of certain things and I don't appreciate it," Kotran told EPA and NTP officials. Moholt countered, saying that by the time the contamination was found and the testing started, all the acrylonitrile would have passed through the ground and the wells to an undetectable level. Bruce Moholt, a toxicologist who has volunteered with Gillick's group, told EPA officials that scientists should have studied a chemical called acrylonitrile, a component of SAN Trimer. "We are not backing down.". A … In 1980, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection required Ciba-Geigy to begin groundwater monitoring and drum removal at the plant site. Danny DeVito Photo by Gage Skidmore. Superfund Sites in Reuse in New Jersey. Soil Pollution May Contribute to Antibiotic Resistance, Study Finds, Air Pollution Exacerbates COVID-19 Mortality, Study Finds, Know the Symptoms of Blood Clots in Your Lungs, The Importance of Radon Testing and Mitigation, Why Diversity Matters In COVID-19 Vaccine Trials. From 1952-1990, the Ciba-Geigy Corporation (since acquired by BASF) operated a dye manufacturing plant in Toms River. In 1997, ATSDR and NJDHSS determined that an epidemiologic study was warranted, and that the study would include assessments of the potential for exposure to specific drinking-water sources. Sign up and get your guide! Other families declined the settlement to pursue a class-action suit. m_gallery_type = "photo"; TOMS RIVER — When scientists recently told a group of Toms River residents that a substance found in their drinking water nearly 20 years ago doesn't cause cancer, there was a collective sense of deja vu. "The New Jersey Department of Health has been attending the Toms River Citizens Action Committee on Childhood Cancer Cluster (CACCCC) annual fall meetings every year for … Limiting processed foods and red meats can help ward off cancer risk. In December of that year, the owners discovered 4,500 waste drums bearing Union Carbide labels had been dumped on the land, and waste products had been poured into trenches. Gillick said. Having grown up in the Toms River area, I was a child when a lot of the whisperings of "cancer cluster" were first heard. It's not even true in all of Toms River. m_gallery_blog_id = "8001122"; Mark Cukerr, an attorney who represented several of the cancer cluster families in civil lawsuits, questioned how the scientists could have easily dismissed evidence that the number of childhood leukemia cases decreased after two wells supplying drinking water were closed in the late 1990s. "The answer would be 'no,'" Linda Gillick said about whether the families are any closer to learning what caused diseases in their children. In 1983, the Toms River site was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Superfund list. Excerpted from the book "Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation" By the spring of 1995, when Steve Jones called to ask him to look into a possible cluster of childhood cancer in Toms River… For instance, instead of slicing the 400 test rats' brains into three sections, scientists sliced them into 12, they said. Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. It only noted the abnormalities in the rats fed SAN Trimer. It made for a diverse sample of study subjects. The occurrence of childhood cancer has been a concern in the Dover Township/Toms River area of Ocean County for many years. "We've gone through so much stuff here, which is baloney. "The definitive answer would be 'no.'". But Gillick said tests were done with SAN Trimer that wasn't exactly like the one found in the water near Reich Farm. Mary Kugler, RN, is a pediatric nurse whose specialty is caring for children with long-term or severe medical problems. She has co-authored two books for the popular Dummies Series (as Shereen Jegtvig). Belton TJ. In 1983, the Toms Riv… Gillick, whose 36-year-old son Michael was diagnosed shortly after his birth with neuroblastoma, is the chairwoman of the Citizen's Action Committee on Childhood Cancer Cluster and leading the fight for answers. And, she said studying SAN Trimer alone - without all the other chemicals found in the water at the time - was not a true replication of what residents were drinking at the time. Acrylonitrile, a known carcinogen, would have dissolved more easily than SAN Trimer into the ground and the drinking water, he said. Ciba-Geigy and the Toms River Cancer Cluster Settlement, Ⓒ 2020 About, Inc. (Dotdash) — All rights reserved. Since age 3, Michael has suffered from a brain cancer called neuroblastoma. m_gallery_id = "16924585"; "My own feeling is that...since acrylonitrile was also in these wastes and is a known potent carcinogen, that this whole study, which was obviously very expensive, was looking at the wrong substance," Moholt told EPA officials and NTP scientists. Published January 2003. But some other notorious incidents, often thought to be cancer clusters, were not. And instead of limiting their observations to the rats' spinal columns, scientists also looked at their peripheral nerves, such as the sciatic nerve, they said. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (each updated 1/1/20). These recipes focus on antioxidant-rich foods to better protect you and your loved ones. Was it a consequence of nothing but a stunningly bad run of luck, like rolling snake eyes six times in a row? How Can You Lower Your Risk for Leukemia? And so it was again with a new study on that newly identified substance, called styrene-acrylonitrile trimer (SAN Trimer). Shereen Lehman, MS, is a healthcare journalist and fact checker. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. From 1972-1974 Union Carbide removed drums, trench waste, and contaminated soil. In response to the residents' concerns, the New Jersey Department of Health in 1996 studied the problem and found that between 1979 and 1995, 90 children in the township were diagnosed with cancer. Toms River cancer cluster still a mystery despite 20 years of studies. SAN Trimer wasn't identified until 1997 - 26 years after the public learned independent waste hauler Nicholas Fernicola had secretly dumped waste from Union Carbide in Bound Brook onto a 3-acre parcel of Reich Farm, a site off Route 9, that he leased in 1971. Toms River, New Jersey is another recognized case. Union Carbide, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, and United Water Toms River, without acknowledging liability, agreed in January 2002 to a multi-million dollar settlement with 69 families whose children were diagnosed with cancer. Two decades after that unknown substance got a name, and more than four decades after their drinking water supply was contaminated with industrial waste, a group of Toms River residents say they still don't know what caused cancer in their children. Manta Behl and Susan Elmore, NTP scientists, said researchers went above and beyond their standard study procedures to try to determine whether SAN Trimer causes cancer. What Is Medicaid Doing About Lead Poisoning? National Exposure Research Laboratory Environmental Sciences Division Superfund Technology Support Project: Technology Support Center for the Monitoring and Site Characterization FY 98 Second Quarter Report , January-March 1998. Last year United Water - who supplies to TR got caught not reporting findings about something or other. An investigation into childhood cancer in Toms River, New Jersey, provides insight into the pressures that can work against balanced scientific inquiry. "We are citizens who are bucking industry and government. How is Linda Gillick portrayed? Joe Kotran, whose daughter had neuroblastoma, said he's frustrated with the answers he's gotten over the years from government officials. TOMS RIVER, NJ: December 13, 2001 — Two chemical companies and Dover Township's public water provider have reached a settlement with lawyers representing 69 families of children stricken with cancer in the Toms River area. m_gallery_title = "Reich Farm in Toms River"; The plan outlines a series of public health activities including assessments of potential environmental exposures in the community. Linda Gillick lives in the village of Toms River, New Jersey, with her 20-year-old son Michael. These New Jersey Towns Possibly Exposed To Cancer-Causing Gas, State Says - Hopatcong-Sparta, NJ - The gas is responsible for killing 566 New Jersey residents each year, state officials say. She said her group would continue to push the state and the federal government to conduct studies that will give them answers they can trust. I lived in Toms River for 25 years and had no problems. And guess what?" Settlement In "Cancer Cluster" Case . Thank you, {{form.email}}, for signing up. The Toms River cancer cluster has not received the national press attention of the Woburn case ("A Civil Action"). And it's hard for us to trust this stuff.". A film company owned by actor Danny DeVito has optioned the screen rights of an award-winning book about a Toms River chemical spill and cancer cluster. © 2020 Advance Local Media LLC. MaryAnn Spoto may be reached at mspoto@njadvancemedia.com. This book delves deeply into the history of the dye industry and the lessons it brought to Toms River--unfortunately, after the fact. Toms River, New Jersey is the location of a statistically significant childhood cancer cluster. Waste products from the plant were either stored in some 69,000 drums or were treated and pumped through a pipeline to the Atlantic Ocean. Toms River is the second-largest all-volunteer squad in the state. Residents in the area believe that the local water company, Toms River Water Company (now United Water Toms River), mishandled the water supply when it became evident that it was contaminated, and did not treat the water adequately to make it safe. He said the chemical was detected in one sample that was believed to be tainted. Study after study has either turned up no connection or has been inconclusive. This book delves deeply into the history of the dye industry and the lessons it brought to Toms River--unfortunately, after the fact. This was 23 more than would be expected in the population, meaning that the children had developed leukemia and brain and central nervous system cancers at higher than the national rate. Families were outraged and demanded the government investigate. m_gallery_pagetype = "embed"; Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission. This was considered to have been the cause of a cancer cluster of leukemia in the Toms River township that led to multimillion-dollar compensation payments to the families involved. New Brunswick, NJ: Rivergate Books; 2011. m_gallery_creation_date = "Tuesday, February 03, 2015, 2:51 PM"; The finding of a statistically significant elevation in overall childhood cancer heightened community concerns about cancer in children, and its … National Exposure Research Laboratory Environmental Sciences Division Superfund Technology Support Project: Technology Support Center for the Monitoring and Site Characterization FY 98 Second Quarter Report , January-March 1998, Case-control Study of Childhood Cancers in Dover Township (Ocean County), New Jersey Volume I: Summary of the Final Technical Report, No single risk factor appears to be solely responsible for the rise in, An association was found between prenatal exposure to the contaminated water and leukemia in female children, An association was found between prenatal exposure to the air from the Ciba-Geigy plant and. The New Jersey Department of Health and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry conducted a study to evaluate the relationship between the environmental exposures and the cases of cancer. Reich Farm has been on the EPA's Superfund list for cleanup since 1983. It concluded:. Why do you think this is? Would there even have been a "Toms River cancer cluster" story without Linda Gillick? Toms River in New Jersey experienced a much-publicized cluster of childhood cancer cases. How is she 'used' by journalists covering the story? Case-control Study of Childhood Cancers in Dover Township (Ocean County), New Jersey Volume I: Summary of the Final Technical Report. Coming down with rare forms of cancer the citizens of toms river started asking questions. Protecting New Jerseys Environment: from Cancer Alley to the New Garden State. New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Division of Epidemiology, Environmental and Occupational Health Consumer and Environmental Health Services. Community Rules apply to all content you upload or otherwise submit to this site. Subscribe to NJ.com », MaryAnn Spoto | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. m_gallery_permalink = "http://photos.nj.com/8001122/gallery/reich_farm_in_toms_river/index.html"; on Childhood Cancer Cluster. Your support helps us cover local news. Toms River, once a quintessential Jersey shore town, is the focus of Dan Fagin's Pulitzer prize-winning book Toms Rivers: A Story of Science and Salvation. Was the Toms River childhood cancer cluster a mirage, an aberration, or a warning? In 1980, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection required Ciba-Geigy to begin groundwater monitoring and drum removal at the plant site. How toms river cracked a cancer cluster. In 1974 the Dover Township Board of Health closed 148 private wells near the Reich Farm after finding contamination, and the homes were permanently connected to an alternate water supply.. That, she said, makes the study worthless. Before the onset of the cancer cluster that claimed the lives of many children whose mothers' only sin seemed to be unknowingly drinking tainted water during pregnancy. m_gallery = "reich_farm_in_toms_river"; The EPA discovered that the waste on the site was leaching into the groundwater below. From 1952-1990, the Ciba-Geigy Corporation (since acquired by BASF) operated a dye manufacturing plant in Toms River. That angered some parents, who said they couldn't see how the scientists couldn't make a connection between those abnormalities and the neuroblastoma - cancer of the sympathetic nervous system - their children had. But finding scientific proof of that has been elusive. Waste products from the plant were either stored in 47,000 drums or were treated and pumped through a pipeline to the Atlantic Ocean. In the 1990s it seemed as if the number of children with cancer in the Toms River area was growing. The two-year study, released to the public this week, concluded SAN Trimer did not cause cancer in rats. In 1995, the NJDOH released an analysis of childhood cancer using State Cancer Registry data for the period 1979 through 1991. A 1995 cancer investigation indicated that relative to the state, the Toms River section of Dover Township had excess childhood cancer incidence for all malignant cancers combined, brain and central nervous system (CNS) cancers, and leukemia. The environmental group found six contaminants in Toms River's water supply between 2012 and 2017, one of which exceeded the environmental group's recommended health guidelines. The more attention the suspected cancer cluster got, the larger the stain on Toms River’s reputation grew. Before the onset of the cancer cluster that claimed the lives of many children whose mothers' only sin seemed to be unknowingly drinking tainted water during pregnancy. I have two thoughts on the matter. Since the 1990s, Toms River families affected by cancer linked to industrial pollution pursued a class-action lawsuit against the Ciba-Geigy Corporation, Union Carbide Corporation, and the United Water Toms River. Behl said scientists focused only on SAN Trimer because that's what then U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton had asked the NTP to study. Follow her on Twitter @MaryAnnSpoto. Author Dan … “The water is fine,” one anonymous note chided her. Link sought to cancer cluster in Toms River : Published in the Ocean County Observer By MARGARET F. BONAFIDE Staff Writer TOMS RIVER -- John Cardini's daughter, Jessica, 12, a leukemia victim, has been in remission for 3-1/2 years. Anywhere else outside of that corridor had no more of a cancer risk than anywhere else. Unfortunately, the land lies above an aquifer which was the main source of drinking water for the entire township at that time. As the chairwoman of a cancer support group called Oceans of Love for Children with Cancer, she began noticing large numbers of cases in Toms River in the mid 1990's. m_gallery_json = "https://blog.nj.com/photogallery/8001122/16924585.json"; Consider the personalities involved in the Toms River cancer cluster story. There is a pipeline running from Ciba-Geigy eastward towards the bay that was responsible for the majority of the "cancer cluster" cases. Toms River also has a cancer cluster however again, nothing has been proven. Yet the latest study said SAN Trimer didn't cause cancer in rats and the report stopped short of saying the substance caused abnormalities affecting the nervous system of the rats. Groundwater below long-term or severe medical problems to find out more who are bucking industry and government covering the?! 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( Dotdash ) — all rights reserved, a known,! Work against balanced scientific inquiry including assessments of potential Environmental exposures in the.! Press attention of the `` cancer cluster has not received the national press of. Years of studies carcinogen, would have dissolved more easily than SAN Trimer because that 's what then U.S. Jim... Tr got caught not reporting findings about something or other the more attention the suspected cluster! It only noted the abnormalities in the Toms River for 25 years and had no problems,... Is a healthcare journalist and fact checker main source of drinking water for the entire at... Trimer because that 's what then U.S. toms river cancer cluster Jim Saxton had asked the NTP to study and Environmental Services...