FALLON, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) - Always wearing a necklace with the imprint of his foot, mom April Brune keeps her son Ryan's memory close to her heart.
“He's actually in the urn right there. I couldn't bear to leave him anywhere,” she said.
Back in 2008 she rushed the 10-year-old to the hospital where doctors diagnosed Ryan with glioblastoma multiform 4 cancer - a brain tumor typically found in adults.
“It was horrible,” April said. “To think that your child is sick. It's not something a parent wants to hear.”
Ryan's death came years after the Fallon cancer cluster was supposed to be over. But a new theory in a lawsuit is linking recent cases like his to the 17 children diagnosed with leukemia between 1997 and 2001.
“It just blew me away. I was like why do i not hear about this? Why do people not know what's going on?” April said.
The new argument presented in a lawsuit against Kinder Morgan is that a pipeline spilled chemicals in the land beneath an elementary school playground and the problem took different amounts of time to impact the kids based on their various genetic makeups.
“We have solid evidence that the Kinder Morgan pipeline leaked into the school at E.C. Best,” Attorney and environmental immunologist Alan Levin said.
Levin says that Kinder-Morgan pipe transported the jet fuel JP-8 - samples of which his team claims to have found in the school soil and in tissues of Ryan’s body.
“We've got all kinds of science behind us,” Levin said.”So there is just no way of arguing that the JP-8 didn't cause the disease process.”
A spokesperson for Kinder-Morgan said in an e-mail it's not usually company policy to comment on pending litigation, but she did point out several state and federal investigators ruled out their pipeline as the cause of any health problems in Fallon.
News 4 obtained one of those reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This 2003 document reads: "There is no evidence that the Fallon pipeline has leaked or is leaking."
Levin argues back that in addition to the scientific samples, there's also an affidavit from chemical expert and EPA funded scientist Mark Witten saying: "there was a leak in the pipe, and it took Kinder Morgan over a year to fix that leak, because every time we went there, you could see the hole in the ground. You could smell the jet fuel."
There's also another affidavit from a neighbor near the school who witnessed the pipeline being repaired.
He claims when it was pulled out of the ground you could see holes in it where a leak might have seeped out - saying: "not large holes, but obviously rusted-through spots in the pipe."
Material Safety Data Sheets reviewed by News 4 for the fuel type in the pipeline JP-8 read: "long-term repeated exposure may cause cancer."
And Levin says medical evidence suggests the clusters in Fallon aren't over either because they come in phases - the first happened in the late 90's when the kids got sick with lymposidic leukemia.
The lawsuit claims the next group is going on now - that's what Ryan was a part of with a brain tumor.
And the doctor believes in the near future adults will also start developing forms of leukemia.
Ryan's mom wants to raise awareness to help protect other families so she's filing suit against Kinder-Morgan. To read the evidence from her case and the documents mentioned in this story, check out the associated links.