The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cancer 'hot spot' at police headquarters?

This Collier photo (ca. 1920) of 5th and Watchung clearly shows
a gas storage tank in the background, in the area of the
present-day police parking lot. (Image, Plainfield Public Library collection)

Received an anonymous comment about concerns -- perhaps from a city employee -- about elevated cancer rates among those who work in the Police Headquarters and Courthouse.

There seem to have been industrial uses in the area a long time ago. The photo above, from the Collier Collection at the Plainfield Public Library shows a gas storage tower rising in the background (the building in the front center is at 5th and Watchung) in what is now the area of the police parking lot between the current building and Roosevelt Avenue.

Site remediation was not on anyone's radar when the police headquarters building was put up in the 1960s, so no one knows what was simply paved over or left in place.

The question of whether there are elevated cancer rates among those working in the building is a complicated one and would require a determination based on a thorough study, going back as far as possible.

This would involve compiling detailed records of present and past employees, the types of cancers involved, whether environmental factors could be causative, and if the results indicate a 'hot spot'. It would also include reviewing the history of the site for possible industrial uses and toxic wastes or residues.

I would suggest that the place for concerned employees to start is to present their concerns to their union(s) and ask them to pursue the matter with the city.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Dan, You should check old maps first before you make statements like that.