Death In Toms River

Death In Toms River

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When I first saw Linda Gilik and I was told that I had to listen to her presentation I didn’t fully realize how much it was going to move me. She is a woman who had a healthy baby boy, and then after loving this “normal” child for three months was told that he was diagnosed with cancer of the nervous system. She was very taken back by what she was told and knew that there was something wrong because it came out of no where. It is very rare for a baby to get cancer, this type of cancer occurs in one in a million babies.
     She went to Sloan Keteran a world famous cancer hospital in New York City. She was sitting on her sons floor which had 40 beds filled with children patients, and saw that 7 or 8 of tough’s beds were children from Toms River New Jersey. She started talking to some of the parents of the children from Tom’s River and they decided to investigate and maybe find out the reason this was happening to their children. Her son Michael was diagnosed with this cancer in 1979. He is now 25 years old and lives at home. He is a 25 year old in a 7 year olds body because of the cancer and the procedures he has to go through.
     After a couple of years of investigations and several years later, a nurse at a hospital in Philadelphia in the cancer ward saw that again a lot of the children that were there were from the same place, Toms River. She called EPA 3 to report what she was seeing; they called EPA 2 who called the New Jersey department of health. Then a man named Michael Berry made a report of what was going on called the Berry report in 1995. This was going on 16 years after Linda’s son Michael was diagnosed, they still didn’t have a clue and the cancer rates of children in Toms River were getting bigger.
     Finally, they decided to start testing the water in Toms River to have some kind of clue as to what is happening. When they tested the water from the schools, they found many cancer causing chemicals.
     What happened was a man named Mr. Fernicola was supposed to destroy drums full of chemicals. Instead, he was lazy and paid the sanitation workers off so that he can just take them and dump them in the landfill.

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This went on for a couple of years and then a fire occurred underground and he was told that he could not dump these things anymore. So, instead he paid off an old couple who owned a farm. When he dumped these things out they got into the water system through wells. The government was told by professionals that they had to put carbon filters to filter the water. This was not cost efficient to the government so they decided to do what was better for them. They used air strippers instead.
     The water is filtered through carbon filters now, however, they still do not know exactly what is wrong with it and it is 2004. This year alone Linda had 20 new cases of children getting cancer and it is only October. She works with an organization that helps the families of the children cope with what has happened. They provide these families with food, money for gas, clothes, moral support, and much more. The government is testing rats to see if they can figure out what is going on with the water. It takes 10 years for this study to have results. Mr. Fernicola was fined $100 and was banned from dumping. Linda is still fighting with the government everyday to get through and find out what is going on. The government wants her to go away and is basically stalling hoping she will give up.
     This story really touched me because this woman is forced to suffer because of doing something everyone does everyday. She had no idea that the water she was putting into her son’s formula caused him to suffer the rest of his life. She was told that her son would only survive to live until he was 6 months old. He is 25 and is going strong. It is not fair that these children are getting so sick and dieing because the government will not figure out what is wrong with their drinking water. I could not imagine being nervous about the water that I drink, or taking a shower in the water that I have at home.
     These are things that are natural. The government should have done everything that they could and should have solved this problem by now. Watching the video and seeing the kids faces on the screen brought a tear to my eyes. That could have been me up there I was just lucky enough not to live in Toms River. This could have been prevented but instead money was saved.
     I hope that Linda will be able to achieve her dream in making the government finally solve this issue and that next year the number of cancer cases is decreased significantly.
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