|Nearby Centralia coal plant is the number one polluter |
in the state, but the wind blows away from Mason County.
Mason County Ranking Number One
in the State of Washington for Cancer Incidence
We do not have an environmental compliance officer!
By Terri Thompson
I read a letter to the Mason County Commissioners over a month ago informing them Mason County has the highest cancer incidence in the State of Washington according to the National Cancer Institute. I asked that Mason County consider hiring a full time compliance officer, or two, independent of grant monies so the job would be consistent and on-going; not one that would go away when the grant ran out. The job description would be comprehensive to cover all areas of the county; not just shorelines. I am now making this information public.
The National Cancer Institute's state cancer profiles were just redone, taking new information from SEER in Nov .2011, and from the CDC in Jan 2012. Mason County is still #1 in the State for cancer incidence, but we are now
#1 for kidney cancer incidence,
#2 for lung/bronchus, breast, and thyroid cancer incidence,
#4 for pancreatic, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, bladder, and liver cancer incidence, #5 for ovarian cancer and leukemia incidence, and
#7 for colon, melanoma, and stomach cancer incidence.
|homeless man cleans up oil spill in the city alley|
- where is the agency that is supposed to clean this up?
These are devastating statistics! Yes, personal life choices do cause cancer (smoking, poor eating, etc.), heredity may also be a factor, but the environment factors, including the water we drink and air we breathe, are cancer causing as well. Mason County has too huge a problem with cancer incidence to ignore the environment causes.
I have spent the last two years of my life reading reports and investigations regarding many sites and locations within Mason County. I have found potential cancer causing chemicals in the ground water; which is water in the aquifers that is our drinking water. I have researched hazardous sites where monitoring may be completed and the tests exceed maximum contaminate limits, according to the Clean Water Act, without enforcement. Since we lack an environmental compliance officer in Mason County, we have no assurance that our drinking water is as clear and clean as it looks. A compliance officer would test not only for chemicals and bacteria presently required by the state for public water systems, but also for all other cancer causing chemicals and agents; especially with Mason County’s high cancer incidence.
Mason County Department of Health is the accountable, responsible party for all biosolid and solid waste issues in Mason County according to the Dept. of Ecology. They stated that Ecology only deals with permitting issues. Vicki Kirkpatrick, with Mason County Health Department, recently communicated with Dr. Yu regarding the National Cancer Institute findings and “asked her to look into Mason County's cancers for a BOH presentation/discussion”. My question is: How can Dr. Yu give an educated answer to Mason County’s high cancer incidences when she does not have the complete history of contaminated sites, their locations, the susceptibility of the land and aquifers, including a map of the CARAs (Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas) to really know what may be spilled on the soil that could be in the drinking water?
|diesel smoke is cancer causing killer and we have lots|
of it in our county
We have not had an environmental compliance officer in years. The job description would ensuring completion of permitting only allowable businesses upon a Critical recharge area, making sure that sampling is complete and up to date, and that hazardous sites are regularly monitored and they are compliant. They would theorize and plot present toxic movement directionally, and give home owners on private wells a heads up that they should have their wells tested for certain chemicals. There are state rules about testing public water systems, but not private wells. Many private wells go untested, and if the water remains clear, the homeowner has no idea what may be in their water. They would also make sure that businesses and the public comply with State and Federal laws, and enforce them with penalty. Isn’t this the only way that we can have confidence that the citizens and water are being protected and are not the possible cause of cancer? Years of pouring dioxin ash and all types of garbage including septage in unlined landfills, over Class 1 aquifers, basically forgotten. Every time it rains, chemicals may be recharging the aquifer. Goose Lake, a Superfund clean-up site, over the shallow aquifer, still contaminated with no clean-up started. The Port has chromium and other industrial chemical issues and has several sites that are paved over since there are so much contaminated soils still in the ground. Years of heavy military and industrial usage of our lands, over the shallow aquifers, makes me very concerned since we have no compliance officer enforcement. It is like running the county without a police force enforcing the laws; imagining the chaos and misconduct. The same is true for the environmental laws; we need enforcement to protect from misconduct and environmental chaos. Presently, we have no enforcement!
The Board of Health completed a health study this year that showed Mason County ranks 35th out of 39 counties in Washington State - overall health. I researched that study and discovered that only 4% of the weight of the study had anything to do with the environment, and was based on estimated bad air days. We need to start looking at more than 4% of ‘estimated’ numbers. We want to see 100% of the ‘real’ numbers and find out why the high number of cancer incidence.
Our beautiful county is dumped on by other counties. I hope our community can come together and ask for better things. Let’s make Mason County a model county. We need to become responsible and educated concerning water and aquifers. We need to demand our local government and permitting agencies put clean drinking water as a priority on their list; including hiring a compliance officer. This may mean working together for Federal and State funding to clean up many of our contaminated sites. Let’s make sure there is plenty of pure clean, drinking water for the future of the generations. If we work together, we could expect this to be a place for future generations, and clean businesses, to live and flourish together.
If you would like to be actively involved in working on this issue, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, please let your government official’s know that you support a full time compliance officer to try to identify contaminating sources.
We need to get rid of our title Number One in the State for Cancer! We may not be able to afford it right now, but we may not afford not to.
Visit: http://www.ewg.org/tapwater/whatsinyourwater/WA/CityofShelton/5378170/ (enter zip code and click on water company)
Since writing this letter...there was a Board of Health meeting this week. Dr. Yu blew off these numbers by saying that the cancer incidence rate was insignificant...unless there were over twenty cases. Dr. Yu said the only significant numbers had to do with the mortality numbers. She reported only lung cancer rated over this. She said that the main reason that Greys Harbor County and Mason County were so high was because so many people smoke cigarettes here. They said the Mason County ranks number one in the state for smoking. She also blamed all our wood stoves. Again , I see these things as only part of the story. I am going to include part of my letter to the Board of Health that I wrote and delivered today:
“ Dr. Yu may not think cancer incidence is a problem, ‘or valid’ if there is less than 20 cases a year in Mason County. The county incidence rates are based off of rate period of cases per 100,000. According to the most recent information put out by the National Cancer Institute 7/14/2012, there are over 20 cases, of not only lung cancer, as Dr. Yu stated (66 cases). We are now at 55 cases of breast cancer incidences, bladder cancer (20 cases), colon cancer (36 cases), and melanoma cancer (20 cases). Two other cancer types are nearing the 20 count of incident rate with kidney cancer at 16 and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma at 18 cases.
Why does incidence rate matter to me and the public? If you have ever been diagnosed with cancer, you will know. It is not about statistics….and you hope it is not about mortality rates. With your own personal incidence of cancer, you the person having the cancer incident, will have to face your own mortality issue. Your cancer issues will never go away…cancer is microscopic. I have been told by my own cancer doctor to know that I will always have cancer. Does it matter to other survivors in Mason County there are not exactly 20 people or more to share this statistic with them; to count statistically. Absolutely not! What the statistics do show is that out of the whole state of Washington we have the highest cancer incidence and rank at or near the top on many types of cancer. Maybe we are not all dying of cancer, or at least for right now. But why are we getting so many cancer cases in Mason County; more than most other counties in the state? Shouldn’t we look farther than the obvious things, like smoking rates and hereditary issues, to see if we are getting chemicals in our drinking water and air from some type of point pollution. We really need an environmental compliance officer.
We need an environmental compliance officer and I would hope that this would be something that you would support. Wouldn’t it be nice to help the health of the community in ‘any means possible’? I have heard you say that you do not have the money, or the skills, to do certain things. By hiring a qualified person; someone with the appropriate education in environmental studies; including the law, biology, geology, and hydrology, someone who knows how to research, how to get information, and how to organize material, and someone who is able to work with people but has strong principles to enforce the law.
Given Mason County’s long history of pollution from both industry and military, it seems that you would want someone to have the ability, to not only monitor and track pollution in Mason County, but also have the authority to enforce our protective state and federal rules and laws. To understand the local history better I would recommend reading The Herrera Report …. www.ecy.wa.gov/.../oaklandBay/dataGapsReport/
There are also other historical documents relating to the history of the military at both of the Port of Shelton’s locations at Sanderson Field and John’s Prairie. It is unknown really what may be buried in just those two areas which are worthy of monitoring and enforcement. A compliance officer would be involved with public safety, as state law requires regarding public safety connected with water, soil and air.
What may be in the clear water and air? If we can’t see it, it is not there?
Why is it no board or agency is interested in discussing, or examining point source pollution, drinking water or aquifers/recharge areas?
Is it that it may not behoove them and their ‘interests’ to find problems with permitting related to water or information regarding the businesses and issues of discharge from National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems(NPDES), since they are ‘businesses with an interest’?
When asked how many permits have not been allowed because of the critical aquifer area ordinances (variances)…we have been told…NONE. Our soils/ recharge areas are very susceptible from our geological history. (See USGS Hydrogeological Study of John’s Creek). The land between Hood Canal and the City of Shelton has up to 6 layers of aquifer. Susceptibility means vulnerability of contaminates. Contamination may mean cancer incidence.
We have state and federal laws that are not supposed to be avoided or ignored because we are too afraid of industry; afraid they may leave. Many people may leave instead, and new people may not want to live in this area if the health standards may be in jeopardy, even if it seems pristine.”
I apologize for the length of this. I was giving our government officials time to try to do the right things but instead I felt nothing was happening. Please call or write to the MC Board of Health, the Mason County Commissioners, or attend a Mason County Commissions meeting , to voice or request a compliance officer.
Thank you for all your time and patience,
The State Cancer Profiles Web Site provides dynamic views of cancer statistics for prioritizing cancer control efforts in the nation, states, and counties through the collaboration of the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.