State: Cameron water OK

Saturday, November 22, 2008 | 6:07 p.m. CST

CAMERON — Water samples taken by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources were in compliance with state and federal drinking water standards, but some residents remained concerned about whether pollution could be responsible for causing recent brain tumors.

The Department of Natural Resources and the federal Environmental Protection Agency began testing at the request of the community, when residents voiced concerns over the repeated occurrence of brain tumors.

But a Department of Health and Senior Services inquiry found Cameron area brain tumor trends over time mirrored those of the state of Missouri.

Lawsuits filed by six Cameron residents allege a link between brain tumors and the former Rockwool Industries plant that made insulation between 1974 and 1982.

State Rep. Jim Guest, R-King City, said Friday he still has concerns and will proceed with further independent testing.

"I talked Thursday with Bill Kemper, who lost his wife, and said the preliminary results of an independent test sent to Texas weren't clean," Guest said. "At this point, I'm not sure one test is enough." The separate test was high in certain elements, he said.

Guest said his own knowledge wasn't extensive enough to determine if those levels were definitely dangerous, but he wants to continue research on this problem.

The Department of Natural Resources released the results of a second round of testing from 10 Cameron homes and four Cameron public school sites on Thursday. Additional samples of untreated water were taken at Grindstone Reservoir, which supplies city drinking water, and from a small lake at the local golf course.

The samples were collected in September and were tested by the state department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Thursday's press release said the September test results were similar to those taken in May, when the department tested both source water and finished water and found all samples well within standards.

The labs tested the samples for 185 to 210 compounds, including those regulated by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Missouri water quality standards. Results are in compliance with state and federal drinking water requirements, according to the department's new release.

Steve Helms suffers from two brain tumors, one of them malignant. Helms said he and his wife, Carol, watched the Environmental Protection Agency collect water samples at their residence in the Cameron area. A week ago, the agency results came in the mail saying his water had high and unacceptable levels of chromium and copper, Helms said.

"I don't know who to believe," Helms said Friday.

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