Ninety-four former staff members and students from Colonia High School in Woodbridge, New Jersey, have been diagnosed with an “extremely” rare form of malignant brain tumor, leading local officials to conduct an emergency investigation on Tuesday.
An emergency management team is conducting radiological assessments throughout the school’s 28-acre campus, as well as indoor radon testing.
“There could be a real problem here, and our residents deserve to know if there are any dangers,” Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac said. “We’re all concerned, and we all want to get to the bottom of this. This is definitely not normal.”
Former student, Al Lupiano, 50, was diagnosed with brain tumors in the 1990s and has since recovered. However, he lost his younger sister due to a brain tumor in February, she was only 44 years old. Lupiano’s wife was also diagnosed with a brain tumor.
All three family members attended Colonia High. Lupiano started a Facebook group for former Colonia students in a public push to get officials to investigate the origin of the brain tumors.
The majority of the graduates and staff members suffering from the condition worked or attended the school between 1975 and 2000, however, there have been diagnoses in individuals who attended the school as recently as 2014. “Several types of primary brain tumors, including cancerous forms like glioblastoma and noncancerous yet debilitating masses such as acoustic neuromas, haemangioblastomas, and meningiomas,” have been diagnosed.
“What I find alarming is there’s truly only one environmental link to primary brain tumors and that’s ionizing radiation. It’s not contaminated water. It’s not air. It’s not something in soil. It’s not something done to us due to bad habits,” Lupiano said.
The school which was built in 1967 currently serves approximately 1,300 students. The campus is located 12 miles from the Middlesex Sampling Plant, which was used to crush, store, package and ship uranium ore during the development of the atomic bomb under the direction of the Manhattan Project.