In today’s episode, Erin and Suzanne talk with Susan Wind, a mom and environmental advocate, who has been bringing attention to public health problems associated with toxic coal ash since her daughter was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 16—more than four years ago. When she learned that most of her neighbors had cancer too, she decided to do something about it.
Susan and her family lived in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina next to the Marshall Steam Station, one of the largest power-generating facilities owned by Duke Energy in the Carolinas. The station generates enough energy to power approximately two million homes, but not without a price.
Coal ash is a toxic byproduct of coal-burning power plants that contain a cocktail of hazardous heavy metals, including chromium- 6, lead, arsenic, mercury and more.
Coal ash particles have been found in the soil of her former neighborhood. The hazardous ash has been used as structural fill beneath homes, roadways, and on farm land throughout the state, and decades-old documents found that Duke Energy asked state leaders for permission to not report sales of toxic coal ash for construction projects.
To learn more about Susan’s work, check out her Facebook Group: Team Taylor Environmental Grant
Watch this short documentary about the cancer clusters in North Carolina:
You can also learn more about our friend Trevor, who survived a brain cancer diagnosis at the age of 13, and his amazing advocacy work here.
In 2016, the Strengthening Protections for Children and Communities from Disease Clusters Act, also known as Trevor’s Law, was passed. The law calls directly on the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop criteria to monitor, track, and respond to instances of potential cancer clusters in the United States, creating a national registry, which can study and document where clusters exist, why they exist, and who might be affected by them. But this law is still in limbo and has yet to be implemented.
Did you listen in? What’s one takeaway from this conversation that you want to take with you? Let us know in the comments below!