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MCAS Beaufort officials release cancer study findings in Laurel Bay community

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Officials from MCAS Beaufort, NMCPHC and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control release two year study findings (Credit:Robert Catanese)

In a two-night open house event, officials from MCAS Beaufort and The Navy and marine Corps Public Health Center completed their two-year study and released their findings to residents.

In June 2015, the Marine Corps requested the NMCPHC to conduct a PHR or Public Health Review considering incidences of pediatric cancers and conditions in the Laurel Bay community.

In January 2017, a YouTube video was posted by former Laurel Bay resident Amanda Whatley. In the video Whatley contends her daughter contracted Leukemia due to benzene exposure coming from the more than 1251 oil storage tanks buried around the Laurel Bay homes.

The video prompted an intensive two-year investigative study involving the NMCPHC as well as the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control along with epidata specialist conducted testing.

That testing included identifying the potential complete exposure pathways for water, air, soil, or soil gas by ingestion, inhalation, or dermal contact that could have contributed to occurrences of pediatric cancer.

Paul Gillooly is a Risk Communicator for the NMCPHC. He was integral in the two-year study.

“So far, we found no completed exposure pathway between the contents of the underground storage tanks, which is home-heating and, yes, benzine is in there, but a very small amount that is being exposed to any of the residents,” said Gillooly.

Christopher Rennix is an Epidata specialist for NMCPHC.

“I can say that there's nothing we've been able to identify in the environment that would be a link to any kind of cancer we have been able to see,” said Rennix.

Gillooly says there have been more than 900 homes scientifically cleared, with about 110 more to be studied.

Residents who have concerns and question are asked to attend another town hall meeting Thursday, Oct. 12, form 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Laurel Bay Youth Center.

For questions regarding the PHR report, contact the MCAS Beaufort at Laurelbayhealthstudy@usmc.mil or call 1-843-228-6229.