FRIDLEY, Minn. - Inside Fridley High School's auditorium Wednesday night, hundreds of people turned out to hear from one woman, famed environmental activist Erin Brockovich.
"We're not here to mud sling; we want to work with everybody," she told the crowd.
Brockovich and her team spent the day in the area after former Fridley resident Jason McCarty raised concerns over the last few months about the elevated cancer cases in Fridley.
"My wife was skeptical until Erin came on board and then said maybe there is something going on," said McCarty.
The state numbers show Fridley with a cancer rate seven percent higher than the state's average.
Some blame that on six Superfund sites in the Fridley area. The government has flagged them as past dumping grounds for toxic waste.
But the Minnesota Department of Health claims residents have nothing to worry about saying it has tested the water and it meets federal standards.
State epidemiologist John Soler also believes the higher number of cancer can be attributed to the high number of people who smoke in the area, some of the highest numbers in the state.
State health officials were in attendance at Wednesday's meeting but did not address the crowd.
Some, including Brockovich are skeptical.
"What we're saying is that you might be right on your statistics but in the absence of the information, it begs you to look at it," said Brockovich.
That's why she is calling for more investigation, including tracking cancer patients who have moved out of Fridley. She says her team has already received 1,200 emails from people who claim to have cancer. She says most are no longer living in Fridley.
The state claims that type of tracking is very difficult, if not impossible because they have to talk to former residents who have cancer and do not have cancer and then do the same thing for the entire state.
Brockovich's team members called the meeting a starting point. They plan on doing more interviews and more testing of the areas with the goal of turning the information over to the state. But it is unclear how long that could take.
"There's got to be something going on," said Catherine Geslin, who says she has survived two bouts with cancer.
She says she grew up in the Fridley area.
"There are too many people," she said of the elevated cancer rates. "There's got to be an answer,"
But so far, there isn't one, or least one everyone can agree one, only questions as a community wonders if those will ever be answered.
"We have a community saying to you we are sick and something's wrong," said Brockovich.
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