FRIDLEY, Minn. – About half of all Minnesotans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. That’s no consolation for residents of Fridley, because their rates are even higher. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, Fridley’s cancer rates are 7.6% higher than the rest of the state.
Hundreds of community residents turned up at Fridley High School to learn more about groundwater contaminants in the area that may be causing an increase in cancer rates in the community. Erin Brockovich and her team visited Fridley to tour the city’s Superfund sites, and talk to residents about their experiences.
The community is now pointing at and learning more about the six Superfund sites in the city. Superfund is what the EPA calls an abandoned hazardous waste site that needs to be cleaned up. Once a site is designated as a Superfund, it allows the EPA to clean up the contaminants in the area and get reimbursed for their efforts by the person or company that polluted the area. Dealing with these sites is how Brockovich spends most of her days.
“I have so many people come to me,” said Brockovich as she talked about the 4,000 sites across the nation she is working on.
Brockovich says that some common groundwater contaminants have long latency periods, so people may be exposed to the chemical at one point, but not start developing any symptoms for up to 20 years. Because of this, she has started tracking where people used to live as well.
Jason McCarty started a Facebook group called the Fridley Cancer Cluster to try to see how prevalent cancer is in the community. His neighbor died of cancer, and his mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2001. She moved out of Fridley in 1997, but her previous address is not registered with the Minnesota Department of Health. They register her a Blaine cancer case, because that’s where she was living at the time.
Jason says that as a result of Brockovich’s visit, he hopes to draw more attention to issue and hopes to force companies to clean up the pollution that they made.
You can join the Fridley Cancer Cluster group on facebook to learn more about what they are doing, and read hundreds of personal stories. For now, the city of Fridley is not taking an official stance on the issue, but is listening to what people are saying.