Clyde Cancer Cluster: Q&A With Attorney Alan Mortensen
The following Question and Answer series was taken from the Clyde Cancer Cluster press conference that was held on April 8, 2013. Attorney Alan Mortensen answers questions throughout the press conference. The Q&A video can be found here, and the full press conference also available for viewing.
Question: Could you characterize the findings [regarding the Clyde Cancer Cluster testing]? Do your findings establish an approximate danger and something the community should be concerned about immediately?
Answer: It’s produced something that is significant and important. Whether the community at large is in danger? We are going to leave that to the EPA to make that determination, either with our results or additional testing. It is not our purpose to produce a false danger, but if there is a danger, [with] the results [being] fairly significant fairly significant, we want it to be dealt with.
Question: Other than your team looking into the Clyde Cancer Cluster, are there other government agencies? The Ohio Health Department? The EPA?
Answer: I cannot speak for the Ohio Health Department or the EPA, I can only speak for us. We’ve asked to be involved because we want to move the process along. I do know that the property owners are anxious to have the testing and they’re not afraid of it. I would assume the hold-up is somewhere between Whirlpool and the government entities. But again, I’m on the outside looking in, wanting to get involved on behalf of the families, but so far I have been denied that opportunity.
Question: Hasn’t that opportunity been denied since 2006?
Answer: Yes, that is why we started to do our own testing on other issues that we did have control over.
Question: You say the findings are significant and important findings. Is it fair to say that they are leading toward a lawsuit to file against a number of entities?
Answer: If the interpretation and analysis from our team of experts and possibly the EPA bear some kind of causal connection, yes a lawsuit is clearly in the future. But again, we are not rushing to judgment. With Mr. Boyk on board, that is one of the purposes, because the potential is for these families to file their own lawsuit.
Question: How many clients do you represent? How many families do you represent?
Answer: We represent seven of the families that have had childhood cancers, and then we represent five families that have had cancer out by the park. Total of 12 families, seven child and five adult. Of those adults, there are some that are significantly physical and mentally impaired, but again, further studying needs to be done, I can’t really do anything yet because we’re waiting for the EPA to do their testing.
Question: You mentioned testing in the victim’s homes. Were there other homes?
Answer: I’m not going to disclose those in fairness to those homeowners at this point and time.
Question: Can you quantify how many homes?
Answer: Two homes outside of the victims. I’ve done a total of six.
Question: How likely are you to hear back from the EPA regarding the test results you are submitting to them?
Answer: With the change in administration at the EPA, I don’t know. I would hope that this would take a higher priority. I think it should, based off the testing we’ve done and based off of Whirlpool Park. It’s our hope, and it’s our families’ hopes, that the EPA puts a higher priority on it.
Question: Have you heard from the lead investigator from the Ohio Health Department on this?
Answer: No, I have not. We have sent a request to be involved, and we were bumped up to the U.S. EPA, and we were told no.
Question: Has there been any communication with the Sandusky County Health Department?
Answer: No, there has been no interface at all with the Sandusky County Health Department.
Question: In terms of government agencies, who do you think should be responsible in making a connection between what is going on at Whirlpool Park and the children? What agency is responsible to ask Whirlpool for records and look into it?
Answer: I think the U.S. EPA has a rank of authority, the Ohio EPA has a rank of authority, and I think Sandusky County Health Department does also. If I were in charge of any of those three entities, I would be asking for the proof.
Question: Could you talk about the jockeying of law firms and websites that have their own Clyde Cancer Cluster page or are researching? What is the advantage of being the first to get a class action certified?
Answer: To be quite honest with you, I don’t know. Because I don’t know that there is a final class action.
Question: Do you think the lawsuit filed two weeks ago by another law firm was premature?
Answer: Based on the information I have, [yes]. But I don’t know what the other law firm has, I don’t know the experts they have retained, I don’t know the testing they have done, I don’t know the background that went into their lawsuit. I don’t have access to that information, so based on the information we have, that would be a concern. But, I cannot say with a 100-percent certainty that it was premature. I don’t have their files.