Higgins Calling for Whistleblowers to Testify About Published Reports Indicating CDC Held Back Report Citing Environmental Hazards in WNY Area
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) is calling on the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate allegations indicating the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may have suppressed a study of environmental hazards in the eight Great Lakes states. According to published reports, parties involved in drafting the study discussing the possibility of industrial contamination throughout the Great Lakes region are claiming the findings are being concealed and the report’s author has been demoted. Congressman Higgins is also asking Chairman Waxman to invite the whistleblowers to testify before the Government Reform Committee.
“There are many questions that need to be answered,” said Higgins, a member of the Government Reform Committee. “Why was this report suppressed and who is responsible? What are the consequences of the research contained in the report? The information contained within this report, while certainly not providing a silver bullet explaining health problems of citizens living in or near the affected area, could still be used as an important reference for local governments, researchers, and the healthcare community who continue to explore disturbing health trends in Western New York.”
Nine million people live in the counties that contain the twenty-six Great Lakes Areas of Concern. In many of the areas studied, researchers found low birth weights, elevated rates of infant mortality and premature births, as well as elevated death rates from breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.
The report evaluated five hazardous waste sites in Erie County as contributing to the continued public health issues for residents living within the Buffalo River Area of Concern:
· Hickory Woods Subdivision in Buffalo
· Ernst Steel Site in Cheektowaga
· Pfohl Brothers Landfill in Cheektowaga
· 6 acre housing parcel in Newstead
· Diarsenol Company/Kingsley Park Site in Buffalo
Congressman Higgins has long fought to clean up the Buffalo River. Just last year he requested an increase in funding from $30 million to $54 million for the Great Lakes Legacy Act, which provides funds for the remediation of Great Lakes Areas of Concern.
“This matter cannot be swept under the rug,” said Higgins, who also serves on the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force. “Our citizens deserve accurate information on the health of their communities, and policy makers need this information to make changes that will improve the health of the environment.”