Toms River Recorder Tank Field Study


Toms River Childhood Cancer Study

Case Settled - December 12, 2001

In 1996, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) developed a Public Health Response Plan in cooperation with the Ocean County Health Department and the Citizens’ Action Committee on Childhood Cancer Cluster. The plan outlined a series of public health activities including assessments of potential environmental exposures in the community. In 1997, ATSDR and NJDHSS determined that an epidemiologic study was warranted, and that the study would include assessments of the potential for exposure to specific drinking-water sources.

To assist the epidemiologic efforts, ATSDR developed a work plan to reconstruct historical characteristics of the water-distribution system serving the Dover Township area by using water-distribution system modeling techniques. Georgia Tech., Multimedia Environmental Simulations Laboratory (MESL) and ATSDR started modeling studies in 1997. The numerical model chosen for this effort, EPANET 2, is available in the public domain and is described in the scientific literature. To test the reliability of model simulations, water-distribution system data specific to the Dover Township area were needed to compare with model results. Lacking such data, a field-data collection effort was initiated to obtain pressure measurements, storage-tank water levels, and system operation schedules (the on-and-off cycling of wells and pumps) during winter-demand (March 1998) and peak-demand (August 1998) operating conditions. Using these data, the water-distribution system model was calibrated to present-day (1998) conditions. ATSDR/MESL released a report and a technical paper in June 2000 describing the field-data collection activities and model calibration results.

Having established the reliability of the model and the modeling approach, the model was used to examine (or reconstruct) historical characteristics of the water-distribution system. For this purpose, monthly simulations were conducted from January 1962 through December 1996 to estimate the proportionate contribution of water from points of entry (well or well fields) to various locations throughout the Dover Township area.

Based on the results of ATSDR/MESL water distribution modeling study, and other investigations concerning other exposure pathways, the NJDHSS, with support from the ATSDR/MESL, has completed and published (December 2001) the epidemiologic study of childhood cancers in Dover Township, Ocean County, New Jersey. 

On December 12, 2001, we were informed that the case was settled between the parties. Here we present the news releases associated with this settlement.

Joint Public Statement:

Associated Press Release:

Asbury Park Press release:

Washington Post News release:

Philadelphia Inquirer News release:

Readers interested in details of the historical reconstruction methodology, simulation approaches, or results for specific years and locations for the Dover Township area should refer to the full report that is available over the Internet at the ATSDR Web site at URL:

The summary report is available to view in ".pdf" format in this site: Summary report.

NJDHSS Epidemiology report can be accessed from the following link:

Earlier aspects of this study can be found in MESL web pages (see below):

1.    Water Distribution System Modeling.

2.    Historical Reconstruction Study

3.    Optimization Methods in Historical Reconstruction of WDS