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The Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant operated in Grand Island until 1973. Forty years later it is taking a toll on people's health. In an in–depth report 'Grounded Concerns', News 5's Adam Lefkoe introduces us to two men who might be suffering the most.
It has been a few weeks since Dennis Mudloff picked up his guitar - still he rarely misses a note.
It is an escape from what life has become when he puts the instrument down.
"It is just endless," said Mudloff.
Dennis developed this tick last January - an uncontrollable spasm known as a Miochlonic seizure.
"I could live with these Miochlonic Seizures. The worst parts are the cognitive impairment, the short–term memory loss and the fatigue. I become fatigued really easily," said Mudloff.
Dennis went on disability in 2008 after working nearly two decades in plants at this location outside Grand Island.
Now operated by DTE Rail, this land was once home to the Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant.
"He was a go–go–go guy. He used to run and do all kinds of things," said Larry Larson.
Larry Larson should know. He worked in this same area for 24 years.
He too has developed serious health issues - punishing migraines.
"Every morning it gets worse. Sometimes it wakes me up in the middle of the night and I do not sleep good. I get up, I get started and my head is just pounding," said Larson.
Larry has taken thousands of pills and yet no relief. Dennis had seven MRIs last year alone and yet no solution.
Both said the cause of their health problems is clear.
"Drinking it, eye wash stations, washing in it," said Mudloff.
"When they came in and told us we had to switch to bottled water and did not give us a reason that kind of brought up a red flag," said Larson.
In 1987, the area was put on the National Priorities List by the U.S. government due to ground water contamination saying it was impacted by explosives.
The EPA considers this one of the most serious designations.
Workers said they were told the water was fine for 10 years - nearly everyday ingesting harmful chemicals.
The Army has been cleaning the site since 1990.
DTE Rail made bottled water mandatory in 1997 when it took over.
Larry and Dennis say DTE was quick to dismiss their symptoms when they arrived.
"They treat you like that and then you go on and they just want you to blow it off and forget about it. But people have noticed it in me. My sister tells me 'you're not the same person, you're just an angry old man anymore'. And I say 'Yeah I'm angry, because I'm not able to do the things I used to do'," said Larson.
Dennis said current workers will not come out in fear of losing their jobs. After spending roughly $6,000 out of pocket last year, Dennis now fears for his family's future.
"That is one of my greatest fears that I will leave my wife broke or penniless. That is what I do not want to do," said Mudloff.
Dennis hopes to soon be admitted into the Mayo Clinic where he could finally hear a diagnosis. It is a sound he has been waiting to hear for a very long time.
DTE officials told News 5 that they have no record of employees suffering health problems due to contact with water. They also said the land was bought from the Army with a clean bill of health.
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