Tonawanda News

Local News

February 27, 2013

DOH details town cancer study

Residents worried by state's study of Tonawanda cancer rates


Tonawanda News — About 175 people attended the meeting, many of whom submitted questions on the study via index cards, which Bowers then read and answered following his presentation. 

Questions ranged from how the DOH is planning to take care of the sick people to whether Bowers himself would live in the town after completing the study.

“I get that answer at every meeting I attend,” he said. “And there’s no definite yes or no answer.” 

Many of attendees’ questions fell out of the realm of his duties, but Bowers told residents to let their doctors know about their situation if they are concerned about health problems.

When one attendee asked about environmental clean up, he spoke to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s work to reduce benzene levels in the air by 86 percent. In response, another attendee called out “finally!”

Bowers’ plan to read questions off the index cards quickly disintegrated at one point, and attendees began standing up to voice and shout their opinions.

“There are very few smiles in the audience,” Mark H. Haacker, a resident who is a three-time survivor of cancer, said. “We are all victims ... we are outraged. I speak for myself, but also for the community.”

There were many other others in the audience who had lived out the study’s findings, suffering from cancer and other illnesses. 

“My husband and I moved into Sheridan Parkside ... and then moved about 1/4 mile away,” said Marie Kresge, who attended the meeting with her husband, Donald. “We’ve both had cancer. ... I remember cleaning off the windowsills, and it wasn’t normal dust you could just dust — it was film. ... All of this really concerns us.” 

The public comment period on the study is open until March 31. Residents are invited to provide feedback about the study by contacting the DOH through e-mail to, by phone to James Bowers, M.P.H. at (518) 402-7950 or by mail to: Tonawanda Comments, NYS DOH BEOE, Empire State Plaza, Corning Tower, Room 1203, Albany, NY 12237.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150

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