Soil tests show arsenic, lead near closed plant

Thursday, August 14, 2008 | 5:21 p.m. CDT

CAMERON - A state investigation into a high number of brain tumors among area residents has found high levels of arsenic and lead in a few areas near a shuttered fiber insulation plant.

The results from soil and water tests at the long-closed Rockwool Industries fiber insulation plant are still preliminary, a Department of Natural Resources official cautioned.

Julieann Warren, site assessment unit chief for DNR, told the Cameron Citizen-Observor, "So far, the thing that has jumped out has been a couple of areas high in arsenic and lead. One hotspot in particular, the grounds of the northeasternmost location of the warehouse building, has shown high levels of arsenic and lead that are above both residential or industrial levels."

But, she said, these metals tend to adhere to soil and generally don't affect runoff water.

Cleanup, she said, could entail removal of the contaminated soil or the addition of a concrete cap.

More details are expected to be released Monday, three days before a town meeting to discuss the state's findings.

Some Cameron citizens have said that at least 11 area residents developed brain tumors since 2002. At a community meeting last month, officials from the state's cancer registry said that they have received unverified reports of 20 to 40 other cases.



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