State Officially Links Childhood Cancer Cluster To Contaminated Water Supply In Wilmington

A long awaited study from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health finds a link between childhood cancer in Wilmington in the 1990s and a formerly contaminated water supply. WBZ-TV's Beth Germano reports.

Video Transcript

- Today the state officially linked a childhood cancer cluster in Wilmington to a contaminated public water supply.

- The contamination came from a chemical plant on Eames Street, which is now closed. Between 1990 and 2000, nearly two dozen children were diagnosed with cancer. WBZ's Beth Germano spoke with some of the families who finally got the answer to the question they've been asking for so long.

LEE BROOKS: He's sick there. We didn't know that at the time.

BETH GERMANO: Lee Brooks sharing pictures of her son Paul, a standout soccer player diagnosed with leukemia in 2003 at the age of 19 and died four years later.

LEE BROOKS: He was getting tired easily, and then he started losing weight. And he got really sick after that.

BETH GERMANO: What she has now is confirmation from a state public-health study that chemical waste from this long-closed Wilmington manufacturing facility contaminated the local drinking water, leading to a cluster of 22 childhood cancer cases in the 1990s.

LEE BROOKS: I knew that there was something going on in town, that kids were getting sick.

BRIAN DELLACIO: I woke up one morning with a large lump in my neck.

BETH GERMANO: 45-year-old Brian Dellacio was one of them, 15 when he was diagnosed with lymphoma.

BRIAN DELLACIO: I got through it, and I'm very thankful for that every day.

BETH GERMANO: With lingering health issues over the years, but he says now some concrete evidence as to why along with another cancer survivor, 35-year-old Nick Eaton diagnosed at the age of seven.

NICK EATON: Decisions that were made that should never have been made. You don't dig a hole and you throw toxic chemicals into it.

BETH GERMANO: After paying such a price for what they say was both carelessness and ignorance at this site, they hope the study now produces stronger public policy.

BRIAN DELLACIO: We all agree that the biggest gift from this is to honor those that we have lost, to get these answers, and to help other people in the future that we may never meet.

BETH GERMANO: This now federal Superfund site was last purchased by Olin Chemical Corporation in 1980, which says it is reviewing the study and claims it was never asked to participate.

LEE BROOKS: I've learned to be thankful for the times we had.

BETH GERMANO: Lee Brooks says her son Paul never leaves her heart. And after all these years, these survivors hope a new chapter has been opened to help someone else. In Wilmington, Beth Germano, WBZ News.