Officials complete some testing at Colonia HS amid cancer concerns, but many remain concerned
Some testing for toxins has been completed at a Middlesex County High School, but answers as to how they could possibly be connected to dozens of cancer cases may still be weeks away.
Al Lupiano first sent public nearly two months ago about concerns of a cancer cluster related to Colonia High School. A part of the campus is named for Pat Barbato – a longtime football coach and athletic director. He died 15 years ago from brain cancer.
"It's fascinating because that sign’s been there for years and no one said, ‘Hey, wait a minute. He's one of 19 teachers that have died with brain tumors. Is that a problem?’” Lupiano says.
Lupiano has found nearly 200 people with links to Colonia High School who have brain tumors or other rare cancers. He is keeping a list. His name is on it, along with his wife and late sister.
Lupiano has worked for 30 years in environmental science. He says that he is still not convinced that the state government is taking the issue seriously.
“I’m really starting to get frustrated,” he says.
Weeks of radiation and radon testing that Woodbridge officials initiated is now over. But results are not expected for another few weeks, leaving some in the town concerned.
“This is a life-threatening condition,” says Paul Dorsey.
Dorsey’s son goes to the high school. The family lives close enough to see it.
“This could turn into a nothing burger or it could turn into a superfund site,” Dorsey says.
There is a superfund site about 10 miles away – the Middlesex Sampling Plant. It used to be a secret site that was part of the Manhattan Project – the World War II-era project to create atomic weapons. Lupiano says that he wants to know if an area like that contaminated Colonia.
“I know for a fact in 1997 a radioactive rock was found in the school. A rock was found in the school – a rock that should not have been there. I know we have rocks similar to that at the Middlesex Sampling Plant,” Lupiano says.
He says that more testing is needed, including air, soil and water samples.
News 12 New Jersey asked the state Department of Environmental Protection if the situation in Colonia is considered a cancer cluster. A spokesperson directed News 12 to the state Department of Health. A representative from the health department did not respond to that request.