Chemical at Goodyear Plant Linked to Cancer in 50 Workers

Monday, December 16, 2013

The nonprofit investigative news organization the Center for Public Integrity has a report linking chemical exposures at a New York Goodyear plant to an increased risk of bladder cancer in some of its workers.

According to the report, 50 workers in the 67-year-old Niagara Falls factory have fallen ill -- three times the number that would have been expected in the normal population.

Reporter Jim Morris said that federal investigators pointed to a substance called ortho-toluidine as the root cause of the elevated bladder cancer risk. The substance was made by DuPont and there is new evidence that the company knew ortho-toluidine caused cancer in animals since the '50s. "It didn't formally notify Goodyear until 1977 that there 'might' be a problem with this chemical and even then it was not a very firm warning," explained Morris.

For Harry Weist (pictured with his wife, Diane), bladder cancer struck his family twice -- first, when his father-in-law, also a Goodyear worker, was diagnosed -- then, when he himself was diagnosed, in 2004. 

"I remember me and Diane watching him go through this," Weist says of his father-in-law, "and I'm like 'Boy - I don't ever want to get that. You know - and how ironic, that I ended up getting it there, that I got it, too?"

Matthew Leonard at WXXI provided audio and additional reporting for this broadcast. 

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