By April 11, Al Lupiano had heard from more than 100 former Colonia High School attendees who had been diagnosed with rare cancers
In 1999, when he was just 27, Al Lupiano was diagnosed with a “very rare” and abnormally large brain tumor for someone his age called Acoustic Neuroma (AN). Last summer, Lupiano’s wife and now-deceased sister were diagnosed with rare forms of brain cancer on the same day. His wife was similarly diagnosed with an abnormally large AN tumor, and his sister was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), which has an incident rate of 30 out of every 1 million people, Lupiano explained in a Facebook post that he has been updating since March 7.
Lupiano eventually arrived at a single linking factor between himself, his wife and his sister: they each attended Colonia High School in Woodbridge in the 1990s. But Lupiano was not initially sure that the high school was a link to the similar yet rare brain cancer cases until he made a request on Facebook for others who attended Colonia to reach out to him personally.
By April 11, he had heard from more than 100 former Colonia High School attendees who had been diagnosed with rare cancers.
“[A]s of midnight Sunday 4/10, I recorded the 100th case of someone having a primary brain tumor,” Luapiano said in an update on his Faceboook post. “I never in my worst nightmare envisioned ever hitting this milestone. That’s 100 people with their life forever changed. 100 families having to be told the terrible news. 100 stories of shock and disbelief with the diagnosis. I pray we find answers…(as of 18:00 4/11, the list stands at 102 individuals).”
The Middlesex Sampling Plant, which has since closed, is located on 9.6 acres, about a 30-minute driving from Colonia.
It “was an entry point for African uranium ores known as pitchblende” that were “imported for use in the nation’s early atomic energy program, were assayed at the Middlesex Sampling Plant and then shipped to other sites for processing,” according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) New York Division.
The plant received uranium, thorium and beryllium ores between the 1940s and 1967, which is the same year Colonia High School was built.
“Also, records later revealed that in 1948, some radioactively contaminated materials had been trucked from the plant to the Middlesex Municipal Landfill (MML), one-half mile away. In the 1980’s, the contaminated residential properties were cleaned up, and the excavated soil was stored at the site in a specially constructed pile, known as the Vicinity Properties (VP) pile,” the USACE New York Division’s website states.
It is possible that soil from the plant had been trucked to Colonia High School during its construction in 1967, NJ Spotlight reported.
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