Open Space Restoration combines nature with fiction, so to get the most out of each writing here is a brief trackline for this story: Palm Beach County Health Officials, based on 2007 population figures, have determined that there is a cancer cluster in the Acreage (Loxahatchee, Royal Palm Beach). Water is still being pointed to as the culprit in the media, even though there is no clear link between pediatric brain cancer and radium in the water. Jedidiah and his wife are fictional, home values have dropped easily by 50% and now with the phase 2 findings the values will drop lower. Although home values in relation to cancer is minuscule some 14000+ home owners are stymied. Can’t sell your home – Can’t stay is the new parking lot mantra at the local supermarket. DEP Checking wells and marijuana grow houses are all true. Seeing an American White Egret swallow at rat was amazing and the hawk standing by is all true. A meeting at the high school was true and there will be another meeting this Feb 9 by the Department of Health. Seminole Ridge High School, Killdeer, Great Horned Owl and Media Trucks are all true.
Jedidiah McDaniel walks out of the liquor store, a pouch of Red Man stuffed under his armpit as he balances a 12 pack of Busch Beer with a bottle of Beam trapped under his chin. A bag of ice thrown over his right shoulder. Dumping the ice into his cooler you can’t help but notice his missing fingers, Iraq, for our Country, but now he is going fishing. His property value has dropped a $100.00 a day for the last 2 years, now with the unsubstantiated reports from the local media calling our area a suspected cancer cluster, his wife is throwing down xanax like tic tacs begging him to leave the place he calls home.
The Department of Environmental Protection drives past previously busted marijuana grow houses and recent foreclosures on their way to test water wells. The purpose for the testing is to rule out the water in the wells as being the cause of a spike in cancer cases in our 3 zip code 30+ square mile area. Out of the 50 random wells the DEP tested, 49 all came out clean, with one well showing a trace of natural occurring radium slightly higher than normal levels. An American White Egret wades in the black water trying to force a marsh rat down its mouth head first. Rotating the rat clock wise as the tail dangles on the side of its beak. A Red-Tailed Hawk perched readied on a fence watches the clumsiness of the Egret waiting for the rat to fall. The Egret triumphantly walks out of the marsh. Media trucks that could not find Loxahatchee on a map, nor would want to, are now parked outside the only high school as the towns people gather looking for answers. You can see the anguish on the faces of the women as they enter the auditorium. Our community, where you can ride a horse, catch a bass, rescue a turtle crossing the road, plant a garden, trap a hog, shoot a deer, has been portrayed as a toxic dump site with polluted ground water by a media that has locked on to the cancer story like a rabid dog. Looking for cancer to be somewhere, the water, air, the soil, the media knows it is here because people have called in and said so. Currently the Department of Health for the State of Florida has initiated a 3 phase cancer cluster study. Phase 1 is complete with the well water testing coming up clean. Phase 2 is a statistical analysis of the number of cancer cases versus actual population numbers. “Government health officials issued preliminary findings on the possibility of a cancer cluster. They found elevated levels of cancer, but said that data might have been skewed by outdated population figures.” With the cloud of speculative cancer looming over Loxahatchee, the local government has seized the opportunity to add to their tax rolls, get the homes off of wells and onto county water. Divert more of our hard earned money back to the county in the form of a monthly water bill and for only 120 easy payments of a $105.00 per month you can pay for the county water hookup from the street to your door. Our last open space, be it in our well, now possibly being taken away from us as a result of fear. Our community does not sleep now, it just presses forward, looking at our children differently, wondering about the cancer, when, maybe, if at all. The media truck pushes its antenna higher up into the night sky. Killdeer sweep and swirl around the stadium lights of the high school. If you listen hard enough you can hear a Great Horned Owl perched in the large pine across the road. The news reporter drops her mike as she fumbles thru her purse looking for her cigarettes, one last smoke before the cut in- “This Just in! More about the possible cancer cluster in Loxahatchee.”