Is Kim Labombard Herkimer County's own Erin Brockovich?


NORWAY, N.Y. (WKTV) - Kim Labombard of the town of Norway in Herkimer County was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003.

She says soon after her diagnosis, she learned there were a number of other people who lived near her who had been diagnosed with cancer themselves.

Labombard says she then started doing some research to look for cancer clusters in New York State, but instead came across a lot of talk online about an old toxic dump site that was just two miles from her home.

That site is the Middleville Tannery Dump Site high atop a hill in Norway, on Military Road, right near the Fairfield Town line.

Labombard then filed numerous Freedom of Information requests with state and federal agencies to get information on the old dump site, and she says she finally was getting someplace.

The documentation she shared with us shows the E.P.A. conducted an extensive study on the site back in 1989, and an assessment of that site showed the hazardous substance known as chromium was found in in the soil and in the surface water.

The assessment also noted there was no containment to prevent it from migrating it into the surface water.

The final recommendation by the E.P.A. in the report released in May of 1990 was to subject the site to what it called a Medium Priority Screening Site Inspection.

The only other inspection documentation Labombard received from the government agencies was what is called a Letter Health Consultation prepared by the New York State Department of Health.

That 13 page report showed the E.P.A. did perform another site visit in 2004, and reported at that point there was no significant exposures to the contamination at the site.

It also shows a year later, in 2005, the E.P.A. requested the New York State Department of Health and the C.D.C. get involved.

In October of 2010, an arm of the C.D.C. in Atlanta called the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released a report regarding the 2005 E.P.A. study.

That ATSDR report showed the chromium levels of six different samples were on average 400 times the normal level.

The ATSDR's recommendation at that point was to take measures to prevent exposures to the chromium, only if the use of the land should change.

It hasn't, but Kim Labombard wants the site cleaned up anyway, "We need to have them re-test the area again. Re-test neighboring wells and the spring water that runs down through there, that's kind of what I'm looking for."

Labombard says the government agencies told her there were more documents regarding the Middleville Tannery Dump Site, but those agencies couldn't release them to her because of the nature of those documents.

She says she was told she could file an appeal, "they said if I wanted to do that, I could send in an appeal letter to them, so I sent a letter asking to appeal the decision so I could find out more information, and I haven't hard back from that either."

Labombard says she contacted Congressman Richard Hanna's office about a week ago, and today Renee Gamela, a spokesperson for the Congressman released a statement saying

"Congressman Hanna takes issues regarding cancer and environmental quality very seriously. He is aware of this issue and has already launched an inquiry directly with the Environmental Protection Agency."

News Channel 2 contacted the E.P.A., the C.D.C, and the New York State Department of Health regarding the status of the dump site, but so far have not had a response from any of them.

We did however receive an email back from the Stephen Litwhiler with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Litwhiler said, "Both DEC and EPA testing indicated that the site would not qualify as a hazardous waste site."

We are waiting for a call back from Litwhiler to get more information.

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