Cocoa Beach retesting groundwater containing cancer-causing chemicals

Additional testing follows beachside meeting of concerned citizens

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – With cancer-causing chemicals detected in groundwater and traces of chemicals in drinking water in communities near Patrick Air Force Base, Cocoa Beach officials said the city will do more testing in the next two weeks.

City Manager Jim McKnight said the testing will be done at the same five sites that were tested last month, including the sewage plan, golf course, other neighborhoods and Port Canaveral.

Chemical levels found in Cocoa Beach groundwater were much higher than those found in Satellite Beach.

"It was concerning, because it's unknown," McKnight said about the possible dangers.

While speaking to 200 people at a meeting of concerned citizens Sunday at the Satellite Beach Civic Center, radiation oncologist and cancer survivor Dr. Julie Greenwalt said there are 45 cases of cancer in patients under the age of 40 near the base since 2010.

In an email to airmen obtained by News 6, a general blamed the media for what he called a "created perception" that Patrick's use of chemicals is causing adverse health effects.

Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach officials met with the U.S. Air Force last week.

"Patrick Air Force Base has some responsibility here, since they appear to be the main source, by preliminary testing, of what we're dealing with," McKnight said. "I think the tough questions are yet to come."

Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach leaders said the investigation for the truth continues.

Some people following the internationally publicized cancer cluster story agreed there is a lot more work to be done.

"If the testing helps and they actually do something about it, wonderful," Cocoa Beach resident Dian Helgerud said.

Another Cocoa Beach citizen, Frank Bonell, said he supports more testing.

"I hope that our officials are on top of this. I hope they're being aggressive and truthful," Bonell said.

Another meeting of concerned citizens is being planned for sometime in September in Satellite Beach.

About the Author: