Members of Erin Brockovich's Team Meet With North Side Residents
Erin Brockovich didn't make it to the meeting at the North Side Improvement League in Watertown on Thursday night, but that didn't hurt attendance.
The room was filled for a town hall meeting on the effect of toxic chemicals dumped in the city by New York Air Brake decades ago.
"I will tell you what we know is we've got a community that's very concerned about environmental pollution in its residential neighborhood," said Bob Bowcock, an environmental investigator with Brockovich's team.
In 1988, General Signal - which then owned Air Brake - admitted to dumping toxic chemicals in the landfill.
That triggered more than 10 years of testing and a state cleanup.
Bowcock and local residents are asking whether the chemicals that were supposed to be cleaned up are still there and whether those chemicals are responsible for medical issues some resident are suffering.
Those issues include things like neurological diseases, cancer and birth defects.
"I know of, I think, four families that have six kids that have a birth defect," said Carol Molinari, who used to live on the north side.
"It's the same birth defect," she said. "Same exact one."
"Six kids are affected by it and I have two in one family and odds of me having two in one family are one in 850,000."
Many hands were raised when Bowcock asked who in the audience had family members who - or if they, themselves - suffered from neurological diseases, cancer or birth defects.
"There's a tremendous amount of neurological disorders in the audience that I saw," Bowcock said. "A lot of tremors."
Bowcock says the next step is finding out more about the effects of the chemicals.
He wasn't clear on an exact course of action, but says it will take an enormous community effort.
Friday, May 24, 2013, Watertown, NY
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