A weary, ailing Florida town welcomes spotlight

TALLEVAST, Fla. -- It’s been nearly seven years since Tallevast residents learned that the wells they had been using for their homes were contaminated with highly toxic substances.

They had already known their family members and neighbors seemed to suffer with cancer and other diseases at an alarming rate. They finally realized that their own drinking wells -- contaminated with chemicals from a manufacturing company in the center of Tallevast -- had likely been the cause of so much fear, pain and loss.

Surely, they thought, they would get immediate attention from doctors and experts now that they had a cause beyond bad luck or God’s will. And they didn’t just wait for the help to come. They asked for it, demanded it, agitated for it.

And the residents are finally getting national attention. Their plight has been discussed in Congress and is at the center of federal legislation designed to help communities like theirs.

And the state, which has known about the contamination for a decade, finally sent a doctor who specializes in environmental and occupational health into Tallevast in recent months to talk to each resident about their medical histories and to get the releases necessary to study their medical records.

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