Just one day after a toxic cloud was released from the Brush
Wellman plant in Elmore, local residents gathered together looking
for answers. Thursday morning, a chemical reaction in a 55-gallon
drum released a cloud of smoke containing the toxic element
beryllium. Exposure to beryllium has been linked to Chronic
Beryllium Disease, an often fatal ailment.
About 25 neighbors gathered in fear in Bernadette Eriksen's front
yard Friday morning. "I think they are slowly killing us. Something
has got to be done!" Eriksen says. Tom King agrees, "Everybody lives
in a death zone! Somebody's got to put pressure on somebody."
After Thursday's accident, these neighbors want to know exactly
how much beryllium is coming from Brush Wellman. However, Brush
Wellman says no one is at risk. Brush Wellman Communications Manager
Larry Chako says, "In terms of a health risk, there have been no
non-occupational cases of Beryllium Disease reported. We already
test the air. There is no need for more tests".
But Ohio Citizen Action says Thursday's accident is proof that
more needs to be done. "It proves we need more testing. We need to
test the nearby homes. We need blood tests for beryllium exposure,"
Sarah Ogdahl, from Ohio Citizen Action, says. Robert Szilagyi worked
at Brush Wellman for 15 years and has Chronic Beryllium Disease. He
says there's no way anyone could tell they were being exposed.
"There was a stupid comment made Thursday that no one had gotten it.
But it takes years to be diagnosed," Szilagyi says.
Ohio Citizen Action says they have thousands of signatures asking
for more testing on the area. Bernadette Eriksen believes testing
may be their only hope. " I think we're out of our minds to live
here, but who's going to buy our house? We have no place else to
By: Gretchen Auker