Crowd turns out to hear about can­cer con­cerns

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

The meet­ing is led by a woman from Sum­mitville who lost her son at age 4 this past April.

ELLENVILLE >> Kim Can­dela has a tough road ahead.

Her jour­ney be­gan with the death this past April of her 4-year-old son, Jack­son Joshua Smith, from brain can­cer.

Mon­day evening, the Sum­mitville woman led a meet­ing at Ellenville Vil­lage Hall, where she told her story, shared some of the things she learned along the way and spoke of her ef­fort to learn why so many of her neigh­bors have fallen ill.

It was a bat­tle for Can­dela just to get a speak­ing venue from tight-lipped pub­lic of­fi­cials, none of whom at­tended her event.

Res­i­dents who did at­tend warned Can­dela that oth­ers who pre­vi­ously tried to prove a can­cer clus­ter were run out of town.

“I don’t plan on stop­ping, re­gard­less of any hur­dles I come across,” Can­dela said af­ter the meet­ing.

Can­dela was liv­ing in Ellenville, which is in the Ul­ster County town of Wawars­ing, while preg­nant with her Jack­son. He died of brain can­cer on April 12, 2016.

Can­dela now lives in Sum­mitville, in the Sul­li­van County town of Ma­makat­ing, about 6 miles south of Ellenville.

Stick­ing to what she said were facts, Can­dela on Mon­day pre­sented an overview of the ma­jor toxic waste sites around the area, in­clud­ing a lo­cal iron scrap yard, a pa­per mill and Ellenville’s for­mer Channel Master fac­tory, op­er­ated by Ger­man com­pany VAW from 1965 to 2002 and now be­ing de­mol­ished, with Hy­dro Alu­minum, an old smelt­ing fa­cil­ity, the last re­main­ing relic.

All of these lo­ca­tions were pro­jected onto a map, in a slide show pre­sen­ta­tion fa­cil­i­tated by vol­un­teers, as Can­dela elab­o­rated on pos­si­ble cor­re­la­tion with lo­cal can­cer cases.

“The VAW is hard to talk about, there isn’t a lot of data, a lit­tle fishy about that place be­cause you can’t re­ally find much,” she said.

One at­tendee, Butch Smart­wood,65, said he worked at VAW and suf­fered three sep­a­rate bouts of Hodgkin’s lym­phoma.

Part way through the meet­ing, a teacher asked if the group knew about a long list, com­piled dur­ing the 1990s, of can­cer vic­tims among school dis­trict staff mem­bers.

The VAW site is be­hind the Ellenville Cen­tral School Dis­trict prop­erty, a com­plex that houses pri­mary and se­condary school build­ings, plus ath­letic fields. Ques­tions re­main unan­swered about the de­mo­li­tion process of the fac­to­ries and the ul­ti­mate dis­po­si­tion of the debris. Men in moon suits and a water bub­bler have been ob­served there.

Also dis­cussed were dis­eases other than can­cer that the iden­ti­fied con­tam­i­nants can cause.

A lively round­table con­ver­sa­tion fol­lowed.

“We’re go­ing to make a closed Face­book group for peo­ple who want to help or­ga­nize things,” Can­dela said, adding that door-todoor can­vass­ing also is planned to gather more tes­ti­mo­ni­als.

“It’s ob­vi­ous there’s an is­sue in the area. They (author­i­ties) can’t ig­nore it,” she said. “Were go­ing to try to have a news­let­ter and, hope­fully, an­other meet­ing in the be­gin­ning of De­cem­ber.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF MID-HUD­SON NEWS NET­WORK PHOTO

Kim Can­dela ad­dresses the crowd in the Ellenville Vil­lage Hall on Mon­day.

Kim Can­dela is shown with her son, Jack­son Joshua Smith, who died this past April at age 4.

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