CINCINNATI – FOP President Dan Hils says he foresees “a snow job” coming out of the cancer cluster study at District 5 headquarters.
Hils criticized plans to limit the study to cases diagnosed since 2014 and said that won’t take into account the deaths that set off the alarm and led him to demand that police and the city close the building at 1012 Ludlow Ave.
“This will not include most of the 2015 and 2016 deaths that led us to this concern,” Hils said in a Facebook post Monday. “It will not include most of cancer survivors still living with the fear of the disease returning.
“This number will likely be used in a set group of people that have worked recently in 1012 Ludlow or work there currently. We will be unaware what will be their health future as relates to any recent effects of environmental factors. A real survey of decades is possible, but apparently not desired for some reason.”
Hils said he got a copy of the notification the city received from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on Monday and immediately contacted the NIOSH doctor who wrote it.
“She stated that this small sample is what ‘the team’ recommended. I do not have a degree in math, medicine or statistics, but I think there is about a 95% chance of a snow job coming. Good thing I have front wheel drive,” Hils said in his post.
READ the letter to the city regarding NIOSH evaluation of District 5 Headquarters here or below.
Hils said he and District 5 officers met with NIOSH officials on Nov. 15 after the FOP and police and city officials requested a cancer study. He said city representatives from police, Risk Management and Buildings departments and others also attended.
“Most of the city’s representatives there were cooperative and some even helpful. Risk Management offered to research and mail questionnaires to all past and present District Five employees that could be found. The union offered information on the surge of cancer that was documented on the many media reports about our concerns,” Hils said.
“So, today I received a copy of the letter from NIOSH to the City. The information requested about personnel was only for the District Five personnel past or present diagnosed with cancer since January 1st, 2014."
WCPO has reached out to NIOSH for comment but has not heard back.
What Is a Cancer Cluster Study?
A cancer cluster evaluation attempts to determine whether cancer cases may have a common cause or may be the coincidental occurrence of unrelated causes, according to NIOSH. Find information about the process on the NIOSH website.
Hils said Monday that "approximately three quarters of the District personnel still work out of 1012 Ludlow" despite his effort and the city's promises to move them.
While Hils and City Council member Charles Winburn raised health concerns at District 5 almost a year ago, WCPO reported Nov. 2 that no one – not the city manager, elected officials, the police department or the FOP – had ever requested a NIOSH site study.
By the next day, Police Chief Eliot Isaac sent an email to city officials asking for the NIOSH evaluation "in light of the serious concerns at District 5." City Manager Harry Black sent an email supporting Isaac's request.
City officials quickly commissioned the Risk Management Division to make that request.
Last December, Hils and Winburn claimed publicly that conditions at District 5 headquarters might have contributed to a higher-than-normal cancer rate among people who have worked there. Hils said six workers contracted cancer between 2015 and 2016.
The city and police department responded by making plans to move all District 5 personnel out of the building by the end of the year. Since then, the FOP and the city have disagreed on a timetable, and Hils demanded in October that all remaining personnel be moved immediately.
At the time, Hils said the FOP would hire an attorney and sue the city if necessary.
According to NIOSH guidelines, employers, employees and unions can request an evaluation, but both Hils and Winburn said it was the city's responsibility in this case.