Investigate Outbreak of Rare Bone Cancer in Children

Target: Anthony Barber, EPA Region 10 Director

Goal: Urge the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate environmental hazards in the West Salem area and protect our citizens from preventable cancers.

An increasing number of young people in West Salem, Oregon have been dying from a rare form of bone cancer, known as osteosarcoma. After receiving concerned letters from residents, the EPA held two public meetings this week with local and state agencies  in West Salem.

Local publication The Statesman Journal recorded a segment of the city’s first public meeting to address health concerns with EPA Director, Anthony Barber. Residents are concerned that the osteosarcoma cases are linked to environmental exposure in the area. Chemicals most likely to blame include formaldehyde, chlorine, and nickel. The biggest polluters in the West Salem area are Tdy Industries Inc., Weyerhaeuser Albany, and Cascade Steel Rolling Mills Inc. At this time, the EPA is conducting preliminary reviews of land use records and spill reports at Walker Middle School, West Salem High School, Orchard Heights City Park, and the ball field at 7th and Patterson Streets.

Although the EPA should be commended for its proactive approach to this investigation, further action is needed to keep children safe. Reviewing stacks of paper just isn’t going to cut it. The EPA needs to begin taking samples of contaminated soil, water, and air to determine consistent patterns and environmental risks.

Fortunately, representatives from local health departments and school districts have been very cooperative so far. “We’re vested in this,” said Mike Gotterba, city of Salem spokesman. “These are our residents, our citizens, our families, our children and we want to participate and help out in every way we can.”

Sign the below petition to urge the EPA to step up the investigation of environmental hazards in the West Salem area and protect citizens from preventable cancers.


Dear Mr. Barber,

Thank you for meeting with the residents of West Salem, Oregon to address concerns about environmental carcinogens. Osteosarcoma is a rare and deadly form of cancer, and environmental causes in this area must be aggressively investigated.

Although your preliminary site assessments are a great first step, additional measures must be taken to keep our residents safe. I urge you to move forward with testing soil, water, and air samples in the West Salem area as quickly as possible. We must take action against polluting corporations and protect the youth of our community.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: David Hitchbourne via Geograph

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