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Ric har d Gu nn ring at the rate of 53.5 per 100,000 in Burleson County, 39.6 in Texas and 41 nationwide. Most striking of these “crude rates,” which. are not ageadjusted, is the high incidence of deaths from cancer of the digestive system. Burleson County’s rate was more than twice that of the state, 77.7 and 38.4 reThe national There are no official figures on how many cancer victims were former employees of the Somerville tie plant. Largely because union officials refused to disclose the names of deceased BRAC members, a systematic study of cancer deaths in Somerville was not possible. “I will cooperate with the government,” said Mitch Kraus, general counsel for BRAC in Rockville, Maryland. Ben and Rosa Orozco, above; Mrs. Melba Powell, widow of a tie plant worker, below. were concerned. But these companies don’t want to spend a buck unless they have to. I’m hoping some government agencies will take more steps.” Until quite recently, the government had never taken an interest in the tie plant. Nor had others who might have had reason to do so. The town’s sole physician, Dr. G. V. Pazdral, recently wrote to NIOSH asserting that the tie plant was safe. A white-haired man with a drooping mustache, Pazdral himself is in failing health, but he maintains the feisty demeanor that’s been his trademark during 45 years of practice. “As far as I know, cigarettes are the only thing proven to cause cancer,” he says. “I’ve never seen a case that was caused by creosote. We don’t have many problems, except some people are allergic to the dust.” Asked about birth defects in the community, Pazdral first stated flatly that he hadn’t seen any. When specific cases were brought up, however, he reversed himself but said, heatedly, “The only birth defects I’ve seen have been hereditary.” Statistics, People Raw statistics compiled by the Texas Department of Health show that Burleson County’s cancer mortality rates between 1972 and 1978 were higher than those of both the state and the nation \(measured in cancer deaths per 100,000 Texas, and 172 for the U.S. During the same period, deaths attributed specifically to lung cancer were also higher in the Somerville region, occur uu no p ieti ond 10 AUGUST 22, 1980