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Cancer Victim Advocates Dispute Fort Detrick Cancer Cluster Study Findings

Jul 28, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
Fort Detrick Cancer Cluster

Advocates For Cancer Victims Dispute Study

Advocates for cancer victims who live or have lived around Fort Detrick, Maryland are disputing a statistical study  that failed to find evidence of a cancer cluster around the U.S. Army base.  They argue that  analysis is flawed and does not represent the number of cancer cases found near Fort Detrick.

Various Maryland health departments conducted a review of cases in the Maryland Cancer Registry from 1992 to 2008, and found a slightly lower incidence rate for the disease compared to the average either countywide or statewide, reported 9News Now.

“It doesn’t look a lot different, in other words, from Frederick County as a whole or the state of Maryland as a whole,” said Dr. Clifford Mitchell of the state health department.

Mitchell used 10 census tracks near the fort when he conducted the study.

But activists say those numbers don't add up.

“Right now we have 1,100 victims who have had or have cancer within a four-mile radius of Fort Detrick,” said a representative of the Kristen Renee Foundation, which represents the cancer victims’ families in the area.

Randy White started the Foundation after his daughter died of a brain tumor in 2009. 

Independent Study On Contaminated Areas

The Foundation previously conducted an independent study from the community to determine how many families, if any, were affected by the contaminated areas.  The study asked participants how long they lived in Fredrick, whether there were any cases of cancer in their household and if their family had a history of cancer.

The data revealed 228 people who lived within miles of Fort Detrick developed cancer.

From 1944 to 1963, the U.S. Army tested Agent Orange at Fort Detrick.  Area B of Fort Detrick was also used as a landfill and in 1992, the state and county health officials reported that the residential wells in the area were contaminated. 

Since the 1990s, the military has spent over $46 million in efforts to clean the toxic waste, reported the Fredrick News-Post.  

According to Rachel Pisani of the Foundation, there are 36 houses surrounding Area B and “33 of the 36 have or have had cancer.” 

This information is “most likely not” included in Dr. Mitchell’s data, said Piscani.

Fort Detrick officials have performed an archival search for information regarding the use of Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals, and concluded there was no link to the contaminated Area B and the reported cancer cases. 

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