Written for 100 Days in Appalachia. View the original piece here.
The effects of industry can be seen on the surface of many Appalachia communities, from strip mining in the central coalfields to the new construction of natural gas pipelines, but for decades, people living there have pointed to these and other industries as causing something much deeper, more internal– disease.
It is not new for researchers to spend years looking at the impact industry is having on the health of a local community in Appalachia, but in some, the connections they find just aren’t clear, and in others, there isn’t enough evidence to even say it exists.
That’s the case in Huntersville, North Carolina, near Lake Norman, where a small group of people began being diagnosed with some rare cancers several years ago. A number of community members are suspicious that the diseases are linked to pollution from local energy plants, including Duke Energy’s nuclear plant that sits on the lake’s shore, and have demanded environmental testing in the area, but the company, local leaders and outside researchers say that testing would be too difficult– they don’t know where to test or even what they’re testing for.
Huntersville-native Kevin Beaty, a reporter and photojournalist for Denverite in Denver, Colorado, returned to his hometown to report on the community’s struggle for answers for Southerly. He spoke with 100 Days in Appalachia’s Kristen Uppercue.