Alleged 'Cancer Cluster' focus of special Manatee County meeting

Many alumni of Bayshore High School have cancer
Posted at 2:12 PM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 18:10:49-04

Many alumni and their families of a former Manatee County high school, who suspect they are the victims of a contamination that caused a cancer cluster, attended a special County Commission meeting about the concern on Thursday.


The meeting was a special joint session with the Manatee School Board, which some Manatee County residents want to hold responsible for the alleged contamination.


The 5-hour-long meeting started at 1 p.m. at the Bradenton Convention Center in Palmetto.


This joint session was set up by County Commissioners after they heard from a couple dozen former Bayshore High School alum and their families earlier this year. Families shared their tragic stories of loved ones lost to cancer.


County Commissioners heard from scientists during that meeting about previous testing done on the site of the former high school, which has since been torn down. County representatives said the soil results did not show contamination.


At the meeting on May 25, a representative from the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) went over the data with Commissioners, School Board members, and the general public. The NPCR is affiliated with the Florida Cancer Data System, which tracks cases of all types of cancer.


“If you include the crude rate [of cancer cases], Florida has the highest in the nation. But that’s because of the high number of elderly,” explained a representative of the NPCR at the meeting Thursday.


The Bayshore High School alumni claim that at least 170 former students are currently living with cancer and than another 92 have already died of cancer, over a several decade period.


It’s not clear if the rate, if accurate, would qualify as a “Cancer Cluster” but if it does quality, then the county, which owns the property, could potentially be held liable to lawsuits. Some alumni and their families say they suspect diesel tanks buried in the ground may be responsible for the alleged contamination.