Woman's Suit Says Jet Fuel Caused Cancer

Fallon Cancer Cluster
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A former employee at the Fallon Naval Air Station has sued the federal government, claiming jet fuel caused a brain tumor.

In her lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Reno, Vicky Morin accuses the government of negligence and asks for damages in excess of $75,000.

While working for Allen Corporation of America from 1982 to 1986 at the base, Morin was "bathed in jet fuel regularly dumped by the Navy jet aircraft on their approach to landing," the suit alleges.

In February 2001, Morin, 42, was diagnosed with malignant plasmacytoma of the brain.

Dr. Alan Levin, an Incline Village doctor and attorney who's representing Morin, said jet fuel has been linked to plasmacytoma or its close relative, multiple myeloma, in several scientific studies.

Jets flying into the Fallon base on training missions have routinely dumped fuel to simulate carrier landings, he contends.

"It's routine to dump fuel before bringing an aircraft aboard a carrier," Levin said Sunday. "They deny they do it out at Fallon, but the lawsuit is going to show the Navy is lying."

Air station spokesman Zip Upham and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Reno didn't immediately return a phone call Sunday.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office told the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard newspaper that they had not seen the lawsuit as of Wednesday and could not comment on it.

Levin also has sued over a childhood leukemia cluster in Fallon, a small farm and military town 60 miles east of Reno.

His earlier suits seek to force the Navy, fuel companies and the city to pay for leukemia screening for children with ties to Fallon.

Sixteen children who lived in Fallon have been diagnosed with leukemia since 1997. Three have died.

State and federal officials suspect an environmental cause of the cluster.

Levin contends both the cluster and Morin case are associated with benzene, a carcinogen found in jet fuel.

"Absolutely, I view jet fuel as the prime suspect in the cancer cases in Fallon," he said.

Morin, who's married and has children, is unable to work because of her health condition, Levin said.