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Published: Thursday, 9/4/2003

Refinery opponents to aid health studies

A small group of East Toledo and Oregon residents campaigning since January to get Sunoco MidAmerica to reduce emissions at its Woodville Road refinery decided last night to try to aid in two studies regarding heath problems in the area.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in Atlanta, which is a sister agency of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is studying the neighborhood health risk posed by emissions from the Sunoco refinery. More than 57,000 people live within three miles of the refinery.

The Ohio Department of Health hopes to determine if the area is a cancer cluster by meeting with elected officials, residents, and American Cancer Society members within a month. The refinery and other sources of industrial pollution will be studied.

Beatrice Miringu, Toledo-area director of Ohio Citizen Action, said she wants members of the “good neighbor campaign,” who met at the Locke branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library in East Toledo, to assist the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry by taking air samples at times when the refinery increases its emissions.

The group wants reductions from Oregon's BP refinery too, but it's focusing on Sunoco because of its proximity to a residential area, Ms. Miringu said.

Most of the eight people who attended last night's meeting described problems they or others have experienced, which included noxious odors, asthma, and other respiratory ailments.

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