What’s the Problem?
Residents of Waycross, Georgia, and neighboring Brantley fear that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from a local CSX rail yard may be to blame for a cluster of rhabdomyosarcoma diagnoses among children in the communities. Having numerous cases of a rare cancer in such a small area is extremely unusual, and may point to a common external factor as the likely cause of the outbreak, according to Dr. Patrick O’Neal, director of health protection for the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Why Are Children Getting Cancer?
Central to the residences of all the children who have been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in Waycross and Brantley is the Rice Yard complex, owned by CSX Transportation. The company installed monitor wells in empty fields throughout the area to control a massive underground toxic chemical spill that occurred decades ago, but which still requires monitoring. CSX first came under fire for its handling of the site in 1985, when environmental inspectors found harmful chemicals including paint strippers and solvents that were being carelessly disposed of there.
CSX was ordered to find out how much hazardous waste it was responsible for, where it was going, and fined the owner $30,500. During a follow-up inspection several months later, they caught workers dumping contaminants onto the ground near where one of the cancer patients lived. The company was fined for a second time, and the penalty was increased to $50,000. Inspectors found high levels of VOCs including the carcinogenic (cancer-causing) trichloroethylene (TCE), and a paint stripper called methylene chloride that has been linked to an increased risk for cancer.
Although CSX has pumped and treated over 500,000,000 gallons of groundwater since 1993, recent tests from the monitoring wells indicate that significant levels of toxic substances remain below.
Rhabdomyosarcoma in Children
Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue sarcoma among pediatric patients. In patients with localized disease, overall 5-year survival rates have improved to over 80% through a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. However, in patients with metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma, progress has been slower, with a 5-year survival rate of less than 30%.
Symptoms of Rhabdomyosarcoma
- Tumor or mass that can be seen or felt
- Bleeding from the nose, vagina, rectum, or throat
- Tingling, numbness, pain, and movement may be affected if the tumor compresses nerves in the area
- Protrusion of the eye or a drooping eyelid
The treatment and prognosis (outlook) for patients with rhabdomyosarcoma depends on the type of the cancer and how much of it can be removed with surgery. This is why it’s important for patients to be diagnosed and treated by doctors who have experience with RMS. Pediatric patients are best treated in a cancer center where there are specialists in treating childhood cancers.
Polluted Sites in Waycross, GA
Waycross and Brantley are home to a number of different polluted sites. Some are Superfund sites – places so badly contaminated that the U.S. government has required that their owners clean up the mess. The state of Georgia is investigating at least 3 of those Superfund sites to determine whether pollution there is linked to rhabdomyosarcoma cases in the communities.
About Class Action Lawsuits
Although we are a nationally recognized class action firm, the Products Liability Litigation Group at our law firm has decided against the filing of a rhabdomyosarcoma class action suit, and is currently only filing individual claims on behalf of families with a child who was diagnosed with the disease.
The problem with class action lawsuits in these types of cases is that they can force class members into low-ball settlement agreements in an effort to speed things through the litigation process. At Schmidt & Clark, LLP we understand that our clients are suffering emotionally and economically due to loss of wages and/or high medical bills and we plan to maximize each client’s recovery by filing individual rhabdomyosarcoma lawsuits on their behalf.
Do I Have a Rhabdomyosarcoma Class Action Lawsuit?
The Class Action Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in rhabdomyosarcoma lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Free Case Evaluation: Again, if your child got a rare or unexplained form of cancer after living near a railroad yard, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.