Fallon Parents Celebrate Bottled-Water Victory

Fallon Cancer Cluster
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Parents of children in Fallon are feeling better this week about the water their kids drink at school.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., joined Churchill County leaders at Northside Elementary School Monday to help distribute bottled water to the school.

Reid and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., helped secure $100,000 in federal funds this year to provide for the bottled water after the public water supply was found to contain high levels of arsenic.

"Parents shouldn't have to fear for the health and safety of their children," Reid said.

Officials in Fallon are in the process of building a new water treatment facility to address the arsenic found at up to ten times the legal federal level.

"The water tastes good," said Adam Wadsworth, 6, a first-grader at Northside Elementary School. "I'm happy that Sen. Reid came to my school because he gave the water to us."

Reid said the funds came at the request of former Fallon Assemblywoman Marcia deBraga; members of the parents group, Families in Search of Truth (FIST); and other concerned parents.

"Marcia deBraga and the parents just wouldn't give up," Reid said. "They wouldn't back down in their efforts to help these children. Marcia wouldn't quit pushing."

Parents of the 16 Fallon-area children who have been diagnosed with leukemia since 1997 formed FIST after a federal health study this year was unable to determine the cause of the cancer cluster.

Scientists said arsenic isn't linked to leukemia, but it causes other cancers and illnesses. They said children's exposure to arsenic, which also weakens human immune systems, should be reduced as soon as possible.

"This is the first time in decades that science has prevailed in Churchill County over political myths," said Jeff Braccini, a FIST member who was referring to local officials reluctance to admit arsenic in water is a health risk.