Creek Possibly Causing Mesothelioma
Everson, WA. - State and federal officials are examining possible connections between asbestos exposure and a Whatcom County creek.
Swift Creek floods every year from mountain landslides and is dredged regularly to keep neighboring plots of land from being inundated with water. The mountain contains asbestos and for years residents and private businesses have accepted the dredged material as fill.
6 localized cases of asbestos related cancer occurred between 1992 and 2004 according to the state cancer registry. The registry was last updated in 2004 so more cases are a definite possibility.
Starting in 1982, Whatcom County crews have dredged the creek to protect neighboring houses, farms, roads, and bridges from flooding. Private landowners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were responsible for dredging the creek before that.
Every year enough material is removed to bury a football field 30 feet deep. In 2006 a study showed that there was enough naturally occurring asbestos in the material to slightly increase a person's cancer risk.
Local officials have not decided on any possible plans for removal but urged residents to try and limit their exposure and use caution. If dredging is stopped flooding would ravage the area which worries many property owners who fear decreases in property value along with flooded homes and businesses.