Wednesday, June 13, 2007
- Name: Sue Sturgis
- Location: Raleigh, N.C., United States
A writer and editor living in Raleigh, N.C., I'm a former staff reporter for the Raleigh News & Observer and the Independent Weekly in Durham, N.C. Since the fall of 2005, I've been working with the Durham-based Institute for Southern Studies and contribute to the Institute's Facing South online magazine. To contact me, e-mail suesturgis at gmail.com.
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Hometown is a village in rural Rush Township, Pa. that lies along the northernmost headwaters of the Schuylkill in the county that shares the river's name. My parents moved there from the nearby coal-mining town of Shenandoah in 1966, when I was a year old. I went on to live in Philadelphia, New York and North Carolina but moved back to Hometown for several months in 1998 to help care for my father, who was dying of kidney cancer. Shocked by how many people were sick with cancer, thyroid disease and other illnesses associated with environmental pollution, I began documenting the area's various sources of toxic exposures. They include Superfund sites McAdoo Associates, Eastern Diversified Metals and Tonolli Corp.; industrial facilities such as Air Products, Silberline Manufacturing and the J.E. Morgan Knitting Mills; and waste-coal-burning power plants Northeastern Power Co., Gilberton Power Co., Wheelabrator, St. Nicholas Cogeneration and WPS Westwood Generation. In addition, the nearby borough of Tamaqua where many Rush Township residents work, shop, worship and attend school is the site of mine reclamation projects using river dredge and fly ash from coal-fired power plants, essentially turning old mines into unlined landfills for toxic waste and coating the town with poisonous dust. Furthermore, the Hometown area was contaminated with dioxin following a massive fire at the EDM Superfund site in 1977, when a pile of polyvinyl chloride waste burned for two weeks. The area was also exposed to radiation released from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant after the partial meltdown there in 1979. I launched this Web log to document and draw attention to the ongoing health problems that have resulted from these many toxic insults.