Shortly after moving to Hampton Roads in the late ‘70’s I had dinner with a neighbor who was a reporter for the Virginian Pilot. He was investigating a possible series of cases of aplastic anemia (total bone-marrow failure) in children living in the Ocean View section of Norfolk. He was concerned that an unreported nuclear or chemical accident on Naval Station Norfolk adjacent to Ocean View might have been the cause. Despite his efforts no link was ever established.
In 1996 Jonathan Harr published A Civil Action about an epidemic of childhood leukemia in a suburb of Boston. The lawyer for several families, Jan Schlichtmann, tried to link the leukemia cases to the dumping of trichloroethylene into the town’s water supply by a local chemical company. Most people familiar with the facts agree that the town’s water supply was contaminated and that the excess leukemia was linked, but the legal process bankrupted Schlichtmann and the families got very little money. The site of the dumping was eventually declared polluted by the government and superfund money was used to clean up the area.