WAYCROSS, Ga. -- A south Georgia community wants
to know if its town is toxic.
Families in Waycross have
reported they've seen an increase in cancer cases their over the past few
Waycross Dewey Hilliard has
cancer. His wife also has cancer. His father died of cancer.
"All the time we spend sick and
taking care of our family, we could be doing other things," said Hilliard.
He says his family's situation
isn't unique in this small railroad community, that'd it'd be easier to county
the healthy residents of Waycross instead of the sick.
The Georgia Department of Public
Health is tracking cancer cases in Ware County and neighboring Peirce County,
but so far, health officials said they haven't identified a link among the
cases to classify it a "cancer cluster."
Hilliard and other Waycross
residents think toxins in the soil and water are causing all the illnesses in
"You know, you buy a place. You
make payments on it. You try to make it your own and you start raising a
family. Life takes over," said Hilliard. "Everything's been kept hush-hush so
much that we didn't really know about the chemicals."
In 2005, the Environmental
Protection Agency did an emergency clean up at the Seven Out LLC site in
Waycross. The federal agency deemed it a "Superfund" site, meaning the agency
cleaned up the site after they found it had been contaminated with hazardous
materials. Now the EPA is back in Waycross. Agency employees will testing of a
waterway in town to determine if materials may have been dumped there before
the site was cleaned up.
"The question that we're here to
answer, in addition to collecting the community concerns, is informing them of
the plan we have to sample the surface water in a drainage ditch and drainage
canal that flows through the community," said Matthew Huyser, of the EPA.
State environmental officials
will also test around other industrial sites in Waycross to see if any toxic
chemicals could be harming the residents from other sites.
Hilliard just wants answers.
"I've got to be there for the rest of my life and until I
get answers and until I get somebody to get out there and actually do some work
and do what they say they're going to do, then it's like throwing gasoline on a
fire," said Hilliard.
First Coast News