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Residents unsatisfied with brain cancer cluster investigation

Still frustrated and yearning for firm answers, Acreage residents tonight pinged state officials with questions and comments about the suspected brain cancer cluster in their community.

State Rep. Carl Domino, R-Juno Beach, organized the meeting so that residents could directly question the epidemiologist leading the state Department of Health investigation into the cluster. Residents felt they heard little beyond what the state has already told them about environmental testing or the cancer cluster investigation.

"These are the same answers we had two months ago," Vanessa Valderrama said.

What's more, many residents said they can't find needed information on state websites, nor is consistent information coming from state agencies.

Concern over whether excessive radiation is in the wells throughout this 45,000-resident community appeared to be the biggest concern.

As many as 20 families who are part of the MOMs Club of The Acreage are getting their well water tested for radiation, said Shari Roberts, a past president of the organization.

The state Department of Environmental Protection hasn't found any man made form of contamination in The Acreage, said Southeast District Director Jack Long.

To be sure, some of the 100 residents at the Clayton Hutcheson Agricultural Center weren't concerned with radiation or contamination.

"I am an environmental engineer," Leah Oberlin said. "I am not afraid to live in The Acreage."

The county Health Department in the next few weeks expects to start interviews with families of 10 children in The Acreage who were diagnosed with brain tumors or brain cancer from 1995 to 2008.

The detailed interviews are part of the state health department's second phase of study into the suspected cluster. The first phase began in June but was unable to determine whether a cluster existed because of outdated demographic information.

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