NYS Health Department: There is no cancer cluster at Bellport school near Brookhaven Landfill

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A new report from the New York state Health Department says there is no cancer cluster at the Frank P. Long Intermediate School in Bellport after years of residents' complaints. 

Current and former staff members of the school have been concerned for years that the Brookhaven Landfill, which is less than a mile away from the school, has been making them sick.

The report looked at 31 people who have worked in the school building over the past few decades. It found that there were 13 different cancers that were diagnosed between 1980 and 2017. It also found that breast cancer was the most common.

However, the state's conclusion of its report states that, "Based on the information available to us and our comparative review of confirmed cancer cases, the number and pattern of cancer diagnoses do not appear unusual."

Adrienne Esposito, of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says she's frustrated at the conflicting information that's been given about the landfill.

"On the one hand, we have scientists proving over and over again that our exposure to toxic chemicals causes cancer," says Esposito. "On the other hand, we have the Health Department never finding a link between exposure of toxics and cancer. So, there's a disconnect there. And it's a disconnect that actually puts the public in danger."

Bellport Teachers Association said in a statement, "Over the past several years, members of the Bellport Teachers Association have devoted much time and effort advocating for students and staff at Frank P. Long Intermediate School.  Although the recent report released by the NYS Department of Health indicates there is not a cancer cluster in the school, it does not alter the fact that students and staff have been diagnosed with serious illnesses.

We acknowledge the amount of work the Department of Health put into this cancer review and appreciate their willingness to present the findings to the Frank P. Long staff.  We understand the difficulty in proving cancer clusters, however, cancer is only one of the illnesses diagnosed at Frank P. Long.

As a union, we will continue to advocate in the interest for our students and staff, past and present."

The South Country School District posted the state report on its website but made no further comments.

The full report can be read here.

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