Sunday, January 4, 2009

Don't ask the County to keep an eye on keeping us healthy

The hubbub concerning a possible cancer cluster in McHenry County's Ringwood community just keeps getting more and more interesting. As is usual in these case the local government health department and the owners, past and present, have a tendency to deny a cluster exists. In the face of growing evidence that there actually may be an unnatural cause and that a cluster actually exists one would expect the county Health Department, maybe even the State, to conduct testing in order to determine if a problem does exist. Makes sense, right?

Not to the fine folks in McHenry County's Health Department. For the past year they have been telling the folks in Ringwood that everything was just ducky...

From the 12/21/08 Northwest Herald article Health officials knew about McCullom memos

"The McHenry County Department of Health has assured the public during the past year that its analysis of brain cancer cases in McCullom Lake is legitimate.Health officials determined in 2006 that local brain cancer rates were not above normal, and that groundwater pollution from Ringwood manufacturers Rohm and Haas and Modine Manufacturing Co. was not responsible for illnesses, contrary to allegations made in a number of lawsuits.

They decided that they would depend upon testing done by a company hired by the owners of the property in question."

Even more interesting is that the NWH had questioned the research back in 2007. And the Health Department kept defending it's work;

"Since then, Public Health Administrator Patrick McNulty has stated that the department had consulted with four government agencies during its work, and he defended relying on a pollution report paid for by the company because it was created by an independent outside firm.Health department records, however, show that officials did not contact two of these agencies until a month after they publicly presented their conclusions. Officials also have never addressed private e-mails from the outside firm's researchers revealed in the newspaper's series in which they raised concerns about their own data.Department records show that the department received the e-mails and other information challenging the integrity of the Rohm and Haas data a year before the newspaper's series ran."

What makes it interesting is the the NWH is not known for digging up the heavy news and that it usually supports the Republican controlled local governments.

The company that conducted the testing, URS, even questioned the results saying that they were skewed because of limitations of the testing itself;

"When it came to the location and flow of contaminated groundwater from the manufacturers, the health department relied on a December 2005 study prepared for Rohm and Haas by outside firm URS Corp. But two senior URS consultants expressed misgivings during their work.Both consultants, in May and September 2005 e-mails, said the maps of the contamination were constrained by the limited extent of monitoring wells drilled since the 1980s. The consultant who wrote the September e-mail, two weeks before URS collected the samples for the report, called the plume picture "very arbitrary," while the other wrote that results were interpreted "... to favor Rohm and Haas."

No comments: