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A Heavy Toll From Disease Fuels Suspicion and Anger

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YankeyMCC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-08-07 04:19 AM
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A Heavy Toll From Disease Fuels Suspicion and Anger
MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass., Oct. 6 The big news in this struggling southeastern Massachusetts community is a proposed $1 billion casino complex that many hope will bring financial salvation.

But for a small group of residents, the hope for economic revival is overshadowed by health concerns. They are awaiting a report later this year that could reveal whether the dozens of cases of Lou Gehrigs disease centered around a downtown industrial area were caused by pollution.

Some residents, like Victor and Marion Sylvia, married 57 years, have spent years trying to prove that heavy metals and solvents from plating and shoe factories and the toxic chemical cocktails of other industries are to blame for the illnesses here.

Mr. Sylvia, a former town selectman, knew many of the dead and dying. Others seem like friends, though he knows them only on paper. Our hearts go out to these poor souls, he said. There is no cure.

Offending sites, like the abandoned Middleborough Plating Company and Rockland Industries, a chemical plant, are either already capped or under remediation.

But Mr. Sylvia, a farmer who once grew watercress and mint near waterways he insists are tainted, said it was not enough.

People are still getting sick thats what bothers me more than anything, he said. But Im getting tired. Im 78 years old. I dont know if theyll ever prove that one company caused a problem.

Town Selectman Wayne Perkins said: For years, theres been a fear that something was here creating more of an instance of A.L.S. Im concerned. Ive always been concerned. It cant be undone, but it can be cleaned up.

Suzanne K. Condon, director of the states Center for Environmental Health, said an environmental link may emerge from the report. About 10 percent of the time we do these types of cluster investigations we tend to see that the environment may have played a role, she said.
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