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Something in Johnson County, Indiana has been making children sick for decades. Even so, it has only come to light in the last ten years, as at least 79 local children have been diagnosed with rare brain, bone, and blood cancers. That alarming rate of cancer is higher than both the state and the national average. But this isn’t about averages – it’s about individuals.
Although residents have been aware of this troubling rate of cancer for ten years, recently uncovered documents suggest that this has been going on for much longer. The documents reveal that federal and state regulators have known about contamination at local industrial site for more than 30 years.
More than one quarter of the afflicted children live in the town of Franklin, Indiana, the same location where toxic chemicals leaked into the environment at a decades-old manufacturing site, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the 1990s, the EPA demanded that the owners of that site – the Amphenol site along the Hurricane Creek – remove contaminated soil and a contaminated sewer system and install a pump that would remove toxic chemicals linked to cancer.
But even before the forced cleanup of the 90s, authorities were aware of the contamination. As early as 1984, serious levels of contamination were detected in the soil and water surrounding the site, yet nothing at all was done for another 11 years. In 1995, an EPA memo stated that the contamination could be severe, and that more testing was needed to understand the extent of the problem, and whether remedies would be successful or not. In 2010, additional remediation was proposed for the Amphenol site, but it seems that it was never completed.
Naturally, people who live there want answers. They want to know about the full extent of the contamination, and if steps to clean it up should have been completed long ago. Residents and environmental advocacy groups want to know who is accountable for the insufficient response and the potential continuation of harm to those who live here.
Sadly, it is typical that the cleanup of environmental problems can take decades, and that cleanup efforts are drawn out and complicated by many factors. These include procrastination by the polluters, ineffective legal enforcement, and confusion over who is doing what to remedy the problem. But in the meantime, children are dying.
Often, it is the polluter’s refusal to accept blame that exacerbates the problem. For example, in 1997 the Indiana-America water company wrote to the EPA, telling them that its analysis of a well field they operated just a mile from the Amphenol site raised concerns over the contamination potentially migrating and posing a threat to public water. Amphenol denied responsibility, maintaining that the contamination was coming from some other source.
If you or someone you love has suffered an illness related to toxic exposure, we will fight to get the answers you need and bring justice to those whose illegal actions caused you harm. Please call the a Philadelphia environmental lawyer at Williams Cedar at 215-557-0099. You can also contact us online for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and nationwide. Our offices are centrally located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey.