SALEM - The Environmental Protection Agency arrived Tuesday to begin investigating what caused at least four cases of a rare bone cancer in West Salem.
Federal officials held two meetings Tuesday to speak to the public about the goals of that investigation.
Health experts report that cancer clusters are difficult to investigate because there are too many variables and too few cases to pin the cancers on any one cause.
The EPA has plans to visit Walker Middle School, where four of the five students attended, as well as a ball field a block away where they played baseball and soccer, and a park a half mile away.
They’ll also conduct extensive research on past uses to try and spot any problems with the environment there.
Anthony Barber with the EPA said, "We're not focused on what may or may not be causing osteosarcoma at EPA. We're focused on finding any contaminants that might cause any illness that we're aware of."
West Salem High School senior and the homecoming queen Lisa Harder was the third person from the West Salem area to die from osteosarcoma, late last year. The others included 21-year-old Randy Bultena and 5-year old Darian King.
Another teen, Tyler Prosser, battled the same cancer at West Salem High. He is now in remission.
"I want them to find something quick. Because, there’s been way too many people, and if there's more, they will probably keep coming and coming and coming until they find something," Prosser said.
Tyler's father Craig helped organize the effort.
"People in the community are concerned about living here and drinking the water or going to schools," he said.
KGW Reporter Pat Dooris contributed to this report