D-HEC: No increased rate of cancer near Laurel Bay

D-HEC: No increased rate of cancer near Laurel Bay
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - We continue to follow the situation at Laurel Bay military housing, where an estimated 13 children have been diagnosed with cancer after living there or visiting the area.

The base has been the talk of the town after a Youtube video surfaced, showing heartbreaking testimonial of a former resident whose daughter is now battling leukemia.

After WTOC's Georgiaree Godfrey was denied access to Town Hall meetings this week, she decided to look at new ways to approach this story.

She reached out to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, which is the agency that actually keeps the data on cancer rates. According to a release from the Marine Corps Air Station, D-HEC reports that there is not an increased rate of cancer in the zip code near Laurel Bay. Additionally, all cancer cases have to be reported to the agency under state law.

From 1996 through 2013, D-HEC observed more than 1,000 cancer cases. The overall number is less than expected, but there is an increase in Leukemia. D-HEC expected 33 cases based on Laurel Bay's population size - but reported 37.

Georgiaree spoke with members of the panel who are working with the Air Station during this public health review. They explained how their study actually reveals some positive sides of this situation.

"The Beaufort/Jasper County Water Authority provides the drinking water. It has since 1964. That's the number one potential way of being exposed to environmental contaminants. The next thing we would do in a situation like this is, look at the potential for soil contamination. The good news here is that the soil contamination that has been found is sub-surface," said Fran Marshall.

With cancer fatality rates, D-HEC reported a decrease in the number of expected deaths and observed. In that 17-year period, 390 people died from cancer.

Now please take note that these results do not include the cases currently questioned - as most of those children were diagnosed after 2013, and after moving away from this zip code.

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