Two Marine Corp mom’s are sounding the alarm after 13 children were diagnosed with cancer after living on base housing. The moms are demanding that top Marine officials fast-track an investigation and disclose the results to military families who might be at risk. Melany Stawnyczyj, whose son Roman was diagnosed with cancer at age 4 in 2012 said, “Childhood cancer is rare. We can not move slowly any more. Thirteen children is not a coincidence.”
Roman completed chemotherapy treatments in November 2015. Three of the other cases were fatal, Stawnyczyj said. Stawnyczyj’s husband was a drill instructor at Parris Island and is now a Marine captain on active duty.
The two wives believe that the problem may come from aging oil tanks that were buried in the ground near base housing in Beaufort, South Carolina, which could have leaked benzene, a known carcinogen, into the soil and contaminated the homes or local water supply.
Since this video was taken, these moms have received emails from at least 20 adults who were stationed in Beaufort and then diagnosed with cancer
Military Times has the story:
A spokesman at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort confirmed a study is underway to determine whether there is “an exposure pathway for potential health hazards” in the Laurel Bay housing area and other areas of MCAS Beaufort, and at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center is conducting the study at Laurel Bay housing, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and MCAS Beaufort, said Marine Corps Capt. Clay Groover, spokesman for the installation. “At the conclusion of the study, the findings will be released to the families and the public.”
The study began in June 2015.
But Stawnyczyj and another Marine wife have launched their own public awareness effort. Amanda Whatley, Stawnyczyj’s friend and fellow Marine wife, posted a YouTube video Saturday telling the story of her daughter Katie’s cancer diagnosis in January 2015, at age 6.
“We’re not scientists, we’re just trying to get information,” Stawnyczyj said.
The base commander has been updating the two families on the investigation, noting in the last communication in December to the Stawnyczyj family that the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center “is working steadily on the study regarding Laurel Bay.”
Base commander Col. Peter D. Buck noted in that update that officials expect the report will “identify areas where additional information could help determine more definitive conclusions,” according to a copy of Buck’s letter that Stawnyczyj shared with Military Times.
“We feel for any family when their child is diagnosed with a disease. … We are aware of the video and we appreciate the family’s concerns,” base spokesman Groover said. “It took real courage for this mom to tell her story in such a candid and sincere way, and for her to remain so strong for her daughter.”
It’s not clear whether other health agencies have been involved, although the two families’ doctors reported the cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC referred questions to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Information was not immediately available from that agency.
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