Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Activists who blame Fort Detrick for hundreds of cancer cases on the military base are now taking their dispute with the Army to the next level. They say they now have evidence of a what they call a cover-up by the military.
And as Derek Valcourt explains, they are now taking their complaints to Washington.
The families of several cancer victims are calling for a congressional investigation and filing lawsuits now that, they say, they have proof that Fort Detrick workers were asked to destroy evidence that could help prove the military base is responsible for their loved ones’ illnesses.
In the area around Fort Detrick in Frederick, hundreds of people either have cancer or have already died from it. In fact, some 600 cancer cases map the area.
It’s people like Jen Peppe Hahn, who grew up nearby.
“I had Hodgkin’s disease at 13 years old, and I just got through breast cancer,” she said.
“Fourteen people in the family have had cancer or died from cancer,” said James Krantz, who grew up near Fort Detrick.
Krantz and others remember how, during the Cold War, Fort Detrick led the country’s research into biological warfare, even experimenting with Agent Orange.
For decades, the military dumped its toxic leftovers directly into the ground. In fact, ongoing EPA groundwater sampling indicates cancer-causing chemicals are above the safe drinking water levels.
That’s partly why many insist higher cancer rates near the base are not just a tragic coincidence.
“Not only have I lost my daughter three years ago, her mother died in the month of November,” Randy White at the Kristin Renee Foundation said.
White’s pain caused him to launch the Fighting for Frederick campaign which has been investigating Fort Detrick’s role in the cancer cases.
They’ve conducted their own tests on the base, and say they now have proof that at least one Fort Detrick worker was ordered to destroy evidence.
“What he did do, very wisely, is he made copies of everything that was to be burned, and he sent it to us,” White said.
Armed with what he calls proof of a cover-up, he’s now filing a lawsuit against the Army and asking hundreds of other families affected by cancer in the area to do the same.
Activists are asking other potential victims to join them at a community meeting Saturday at 1 p.m. at the International Community Church in Frederick.
WJZ’s repeated phone calls to Fort Detrick for comment on this story were not returned.