BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) — Manatee County is grappling with a deadly mystery – why are so many alumni from Bayshore High School dying of cancer? A scientist may have found an important clue that could help solve this puzzle.
The old Bayshore High School was torn down in the 90s, but it left behind a chilling trend – hundreds of people connected to the school have been diagnosed with cancer or rare diseases.
Alumni blamed buried diesel tanks, but geologist David Woodhouse disagrees.
“There were kids with colon cancer, young kids so you had to have something that was pretty bad running around the system,” Woodhouse said.
Woodhouse spent his career investigating ‘cancer clusters.’ He says leaked diesel fuel can’t account for the wide range of diseases the alumni faced. Instead, he feels a variety of hazardous chemicals are likely to blame, and a possible source is a former machine shop called Riverside Products.
“As I use the phrase, everything got thrown out the back door,” he said.
The shop closed down years ago. The EPA lists Riverside Products as a superfund site, meaning hazardous waste was dumped there. And it’s located only a mile from the school.
Woodhouse says the chemicals used in such a shop could’ve traveled down the aquifer, poisoning the water students drank every day. And he said the hazardous materials handled in the shop could account for the variety of cancers the alumni are facing.
“It stands out so vividly when you see all the different cancers that these kids have and how young some were,” Woodhouse said.
“I think the scary thing is that we can’t get an answer,” Bayshore graduate Cheryl Josza said.
Jozsa lost her sister to Leukemia. She wants county officials to test the site of the former machine shop. She’s seeking answers for her sister’s death, and she wants other alumni to be aware of the dangers.
“There could be former alumni, employees out there that don’t realize how this could’ve played a role in their health,” she said.
The county commission and the school board will be meeting later this month to talk about how to investigate this Bayshore High School mystery.
And you can be sure alumni are going to be pushing them to expand their search to include Riverside Products.
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