Forget the Alamo: Remember Love Canal

Think KGB tactics under the cloak of a thick Dickensian smog playing out in the Great Lakes region. A Center for Disease Control report was allegedly kept from the public because its “alarming” findings show significant health risks for those living in and around Areas of Concern. Can you say bureaucratic SNAFU? To make matters worse, as bureaucracies often do, the author of the report was demoted. And the CDC would have gotten away with burying the whole thing if it weren’t for those pesky kids at the Center for Public Integrity who daringly shed light on the conspiracy.

At the same time the report was not released, President Bush was trying to eek out small increases for the Great Lakes Legacy Act–the only law on the books to clean up AOC’s. While any increase is appreciated, the President’s budget does not get the job done. Combine a bad budget with the recent brouhaha over the buried CDC report, and, well, it’s enought to make someone down right mad.

And some of our Congressmen are outraged. U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, who represents Western New York where the study describes increased cancer and infant mortality rates, has asked the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to call on the Whistleblowers to testify and investigate the allegations that the report was withheld and author demoted.

“There are many questions that need to be answered,” said Higgins, a member of the Government Reform Committee. “Why was this report suppressed and who is responsible? What are the consequences of the research contained in the report? The information contained within this report, while certainly not providing a silver bullet explaining health problems of citizens living in or near the affected area, could still be used as an important reference for local governments, researchers, and the healthcare community who continue to explore disturbing health trends in Western New York.”

Congressmen John Dingell (Mich-D) and Bart Stupak (Mich-D) recently penned a letter to the CDC asking that they please publish the “public” report. The Congressmen would like the opportunity to read and evaluate the research themselves. The letter also asks the agency to fess up on why it suppressed the report and why it demoted the chief author, Dr. Christopher De Rosa who tried to get the “government” report to the public.

Who is serving who here? Isn’t the CDC a public agency? Doesn’t it exist at the will of the people? The same nine million people who live in 26 of the Great Lakes AOC’s? The same people who have experienced more cancer than the rest of the country? People who know people who have died of breast, colon and lung cancer much younger than they should have and who happen to have grown up in or near the AOC’s.

The actions of the CDC are beyond the Pall and a hearing needs to happen to hold those responsible accountable. People living in and around the AOC’s and their public officials finally, as of last week, have an opportunity to see the research and find out what steps should to be taken to make sure they can access the most basic right given to us in our precious national documents: the pursuit of happiness.

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