Neighbors of the Brush Wellman beryllium copper
rolling facility in Elmore have long suspected that they might be
subject to berylliosis, a disease caused by breathing the hard,
Lauretta Peters, who lived on an egg farm near Brush Wellman for
about 25 years before moving to Florida, joined about 50 other local
residents at the Elmore Community Center on Wednesday night for a
discussion about their concerns with exposure to beryllium dust and
procedures for measuring it.
They told representatives of the federal Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry they would prefer independent
testing of air and water quality to reviews conducted by Brush
Wellman and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
It has been established that some former workers at the Brush
Wellman plant have been diagnosed with the most serious form of
berylliosis, chronic beryllium disease. But no cases of anyone
contracting the illness outside the sprawling facility have been
documented, says Brush Wellman spokesman Patrick Carpenter, who adds
that the company has a history of providing air samples inside and
outside the facility.
Peters and others in the community aren't convinced. That's why
they want an independent study conducted.
Wednesday's meeting was a result of the Ohio Citizen Action group
contacting Sen. Mike DeWine, D-Ohio, after OCA conducted beryllium
testing earlier this year. OCA says it found beryllium contamination
in the cars and homes of Brush Wellman workers. No contamination was
found in the cars and homes of people who do not work at the plant,
"It tells us the workers are bringing it home with them," says
OCA spokeswoman Amy Ryder.
DeWine was convinced to contact the federal Centers for Disease
Control. The CDC asked ATSDR to make the visit that occurred
Wednesday night. After conducting its assessment, ATSDR could
recommend independent testing.
Meanwhile, the OEPA will monitor air quality in the area and
submit samples for independent testing.
While we aren't supporters of duplicative efforts and unnecessary
expenditures of taxpayers' money, we think in this case that the
costs involved in multiple tests are justified. The stakes are
simply too high to do less.
Encouraging, too, is the cooperation promised Thursday morning by
Brush Wellman's Carpenter: "We welcome the interest of the CDC, we
welcome their visit, we welcome their study and we look forward to
working with them."
We hope Wednesday's meeting results in more cooperation among
these groups and testing that provides solid information for Elmore
residents and a fair shake for Brush Wellman.
If that occurs, everyone wins.