BEAUFORT, S.C. (CBS) — Military families claim oil tanks below military housing in South Carolina are to blame for over a dozen children getting cancer.
CBS News reports 15 children who lived on or near the Laurel Bay military housing community have been diagnosed with cancer, specifically leukemia.READ MORE: WATCH: Kyle Schwarber Clubs 2 More Home Runs To Continue Pace To Join Ryan Howard As Only Phillies To Do This
Two mothers, Melany Stawnyczyj and Amanda Whatley, found out that some heating oil tanks buried near those Laurel Bay homes in Beaufort, South Carolina, had leaked.
“What a coincidence it was for both of us who were pregnant at the same time,” Stawnyczyj told CBS News. “Our husbands were stationed in Parris Island at the same time. We had lived in the same area.”
Whatley’s 6-year-old daughter and Stawnyczyj’s 4-year-old son were both diagnosed with leukemia.
The two women fear benzene, a carcinogen in heating oil, may have made their children sick.
“In recent years there is accumulating evidence that it can also increase a risk of leukemia in children,” said Dr. Beng Fuh, a pediatric oncologist who treated Stawnyczyj’s son.
Whatley and Stawnyczyj say 11 other families who lived near the military base also have children diagnosed with cancer.READ MORE: Haddon Township Man, Dog Complete 7-Year, 38-Country Walk Around World
CBS News reports the Marine Corps said when it started removing the tanks in 2007, it found “some petroleum product had escaped,” and took steps to clean up the sites. The Marine Corps is also doing a study of potential health hazards at the base and military housing.
“Our goal is to remain as transparent as possible throughout the process,” the Marine Corps said in a statement.
The two mothers, however, believe the study is taking too long.
“I could not in good conscience stand back knowing that other children are being diagnosed,” Stawnyczyj told CBS News. “Our husbands have sacrificed years of their life serving our country. At the minimum they should feel safe to leave their families in homes that are safe.”
CBS News reports Stawnyczyj’s son, Roman, has been in remission for over a year, while Whatley’s daughter, Katie, had a bone marrow transplant.
The Marine Corps base commander told CBS News he will inform residents and take immediate action if he learns of any cancer links.MORE NEWS: Sources: Authorities Investigating Whether 2 Police Officers Struck By Stray Bullets On Ben Franklin Parkway
The military housing in Laurel Bay is made up of more than 1,000 homes near the Marine Corps Air Station and Parris Island bases.