My name is Patrick M McCormick and I have created this blog as a platform for my political views as well as those of select contributors.

I believe that American Politicians have lost sight of their goal: To uphold the Constitution and protect the rights of the people of the United States. They argue and bicker on the floor of their respective houses, positioning themselves for the next election, while they accomplish very little business for the citizens of this country.

Meanwhile our economy is sliding downward. Millions of our precious jobs have have been exported overseas. Our social safety net and other public services are being cut. Our middle class is rapidly disappearing and the numbers of citizens existing below the poverty line is increasing dramatically.

I plan to examine the causes of these terrible changes to our American way of life. Your comments will help us all arrive at some important conclusions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why Did Frank Branham Die - Fate or Negligence

I found the story of Frank Branham on CNN. It touched me in several ways.

I grew up in Illinois and used to go boating on McCullom Lake. Friends of mine owned a summer home there.

I have young daughter and a grandchild on the way. The story of Frank Branham is one more potent reminder that pollution and the other environmental issues will bring them harm after I am gone.

I have attached the CNN story about Frank Branham. Read it. The story is tragic, but it holds an important lesson for all of US.

I have posted my thoughts in the comments section.

What killed Frank Branham?

By David S. Martin, CNN
September 14, 2010 9:42 a.m. EDT

A lawsuit alleges that a plant near McCullom Lake, Illinois, leaked toxic chemicals into the groundwater, causing brain cancer.

(CNN) -- When Joanne Branham lost her husband, Frank, to a brain tumor, she was devastated. But it wasn't until she visited her old neighbors in McCullom Lake, Illinois, that she began to question the cause of his death.

Back in the community where she and Frank had lived for almost 40 years, Branham learned two of her former neighbors also had brain tumors.

"It was like a light bulb went off," Branham recalls. "How can that many have cancer living right next door to each other?"

Since then, more brain cancer cases have turned up, 30 in all, among current and former residents of McCullom Lake, a community of about 1,000 residents in northern Illinois, not far from the Wisconsin state line.

Branham and others in McCullom Lake are now pointing the finger at a chemical plant a mile up the road in Ringwood, Illinois.

For decades, they say, the Rohm and Haas plant dumped, spilled and leaked thousands of pounds of vinyl chloride and other toxic chemicals, poisoning the water and air around McCullom Lake.

"I don't think there's been a bigger brain cancer cluster outside the workplace -- ever," says Aaron Freiwald, attorney for 31 McCullom Lake Village plaintiffs now suing Rohm and Haas. In addition to the brain cancer cases, there is one plaintiff alleging her liver damage resulted from environmental pollution. The company denies making anyone sick.

Branham's case is the first to go to trial, with jury selection set to begin Wednesday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Frank Branham died in June 2004, a month after learning that he had a deadly glioblastoma brain tumor. He was 63.

"Frank didn't have a chance," Joanne Branham says. "What they did was very wrong. They played with people's lives. I lost a husband, who was my best friend. The kids lost their father. The grandkids lost their grandfather," she added, barely able to get her words out through her tears.

Rohm and Haas says even though the cancer cases are close together, they are random.

"There is no cluster in McCullom Lake Village," says Kevin Van Wart, attorney for Rohm and Haas. "If you draw circles around selected cases, you can always draw the conclusion of something unusual."

Brain and central nervous system cancers strike 7.6 per 100,000 people in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. An estimated 22,020 men and women in the United States will get diagnosed with these cancers this year.

A month after the lawsuit was filed in 2006, the McHenry County Health Department in Illinois concluded there was no cluster of cancer cases in McCullom Lake. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did its own analysis and agreed.

The Rohm and Haas site produces polymers, adhesives, resins and sealants on a 120-acre site originally built as a dairy operation in 1916 and converted to chemical manufacturing in the early 1940s.

The facility has disposed its waste off site since 1978, but vinyl chloride, trichloroethylene, or TCE, and vinylidene chloride have all been found in nearby groundwater, according to the CDC.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calls vinyl chloride "a known carcinogen." Long-term exposure to vinyl chloride on the job increases workers' risk of cancers of the liver, brain, lung and blood, according to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Breathing or drinking high levels of TCE can damage the central nervous system, liver and lungs and also cause an abnormal heartbeat, according to the agency. Breathing high levels of vinylidene chloride can affect the central nervous system, liver and kidneys, the agency says.

But Van Wart, the Rohm and Haas attorney, says the plume of contaminated groundwater is moving away from McCullom Lake and does not affect any homes or residential wells.

"Nobody disputes that it exists. But that is not going anywhere near McCullom Lake Village," Van Wart says. "No agency has ever concluded any resident was exposed to dangerous chemicals."

To put residents' fears at ease, Rohm and Haas has offered to pay up to $50,000 to test residents' wells. There are about 400 homes with private wells in the village.

The company has also offered to pay $5,000 to monitor the air for vinyl chloride and $50,000 for an independent analysis of theories of possible vinyl chloride exposure.

'A beautiful place to live'

When Joanne and Frank Branham moved to McCullom Lake in August 1960, they saw a picturesque community with other young families.

It was a beautiful place to live. We lived by a beach. We had such close neighbors. The whole subdivision was like a family," says Branham, who raised five children there.

Frank Branham worked as general manager at a die cast plant in nearby Woodstock, Illinois.

On Sundays, the husbands would go down to the beach to play baseball. The wives would pack picnic baskets and watch.

Looking back, Joanne Branham says there were warning signs. In the summer, a terrible odor would sometimes force them to close their windows, she says.

"We didn't put two and two together until we found there were so many other neighbors with cancers," Branham says.

After her husband died, Joanne Branham's children bought her a plane ticket to return to Illinois, from Phoenix, Arizona, where she and her husband had retired.

Visiting old friends, she learned former next-door neighbor Bryan Freund also has a brain tumor, an oligodendroglioma. So does Kurt Weisenberger, who lives on the other side of the Freunds, two doors down from the Branhams' former home.

Freund, 49, a truck driver and jewelry store owner, says he never gave the Rohm and Haas plant a second thought until Joanne Branham came back to town.

"It was really just a place I drove past," says Freund, who now suffers from headaches, seizures and memory loss.

"I had dreams and aspirations," he adds. "Now when I look to the future it's really sort of a blank. I can't really expect to have one. That's a daily struggle."

Weisenberger, 69, a retired general contractor, says he hopes the lawsuit will bring out the truth of what happened to the people of McCullom Lake.

"It was a cover-up from the get-go as far as I'm concerned," says Weisenberger, who also suffers from seizures.

Joanne Branham says she hopes the lawsuit, which asks for unspecified compensatory and punitive compensation, will make companies think twice.

"What they did was wrong, and if this will save one person's life and they won't do this again, it will be worth it," she says.

The trial is expected to last 10 to 12 weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Cases like this are all too common. For years, the people of the United States turned a blind eye to that factory up the road. After all, it provided employment for many of the local residents. Yes occasionally there was a bad smell, but nobody ever thought to check the drinking water. The government did those things, didn’t they?

    Today, most Americans realize the government does not do those things. Our leaders have been too busy running for re-election and collecting campaign donations from corporate polluters. They simply do not have the time, or will, to actually regulate them. Why should they, “Trust came with the Donation”. They had other, larger, boondoggles where they could easily waste our tax dollars.

    Most of US will have cancer or have someone in the immediate family that does. Is it the polluted air, water or our food that has the incidence of this deadly disease on the rise? Many medical researchers think the answer is “All of the above”

    It has been proven that government help is slow to arrive and ineffective when it does. We need to take responsibility for our own safety. First, we need to make sure that our local air and water are safe. That means they have to be tested.

    Contact a local teaching university and ask them if they would analyze some samples for your community. Voice your concerns about the safety of your local environment. If they cannot do it for you, ask them who will. Be patient, you will find the help you need. Take samples of water from a pond or stream near your local factory. Get samples from local wells. Pick some grass or weeds from alongside the factories fence. Get it all analyzed, it may save your life, or your childrens'.

    We must learn how to take legal action against local industrial polluters ourselves. We need to get involved. Take the first few steps yourself; become familiar with the problems and obstacles.

    When you are familiar with all aspects the problem, go online. There are many established groups willing to help you organize your neighborhood. Do not sit still, time works against you.

    The important thing is that you become an environmental activist. Take an interest in your community, your village, your city and never take anything for granted. You will find many willing friends and neighbors to help. Have faith, you may not be able to change the world, but you can change your neighborhood.

    If we have learned anything, it is the fact that corporations will say and do most anything to protect their bottom line. When it comes to our health and the environment, trust is a luxury we can’t afford.


Your Comments are very helpful...Thank you!