MARTINSVILLE — The Morgan County chapter of Hoosier Action met on Saturday to discuss increasing toxins and the environmental contamination in Martinsville.
Hoosier Action is a chapter-based community organization whose main purpose is to hold local and state officials accountable for toxins and pollution that impact residents in the county.
“We are a vehicle for everyday people to take action in their lives and make the changes they want to see in their community,” said Tasha Coppinger, the organizer for Morgan County Hoosier Action.
Morgan County’s Hoosier Action group’s main focus is on toxins and contaminations in Martinsville, which resulted from illegal dumping and mishandling of chemical waste in past decades.
“I grew up in a town that was downstream from a Teflon factory,” said Coppinger. “And my childhood best friend got an autoimmune disease, and so I work to build the voices of community members and make sure that happens to fewer people.”
And Coppinger isn’t the only person who knows any relative be contaminated by factory poisonous substances.
Marianne Schell’s niece, Jennifer Hicks, is another case who suffered from Gastrointestinal stromal tumor cancer caused by toxic plumes.
“She had cancer, and they took care of cancer, and she was cancer-free in March. By September, she was dead, cancer came back raging, and it killed her,” said Schell.
A few years ago, EPA began investigating toxins in Martinsville, but the plume from that site remains today.
“And this is one reason why I push to get these toxins taken care of in my lifetime. I want it cleaned up it should’ve been cleaned up the minute (the EPA) discovered we had issues here,” Marianne said.
“The EPA did nothing, and they let it migrate all over the place. It is not our fault, but we are paying for it,” said Schell.
Schell referring to the death of her niece, said, “How much is one person worth that gets cancer and dies? Or a kid that gets neurological disorders and cannot function in a school setting?”
A gastrointestinal stromal tumor is a rare form of cancer, and almost 5,000 cases of GIST are reported a year, but in Martinsville alone, eight people have been diagnosed with GIST.
Hoosier action has reported an increased rate of toxins and contaminants in Martinsville and its surroundings.
A word toxin indicates pollutants that enter the human body and affect the liver and kidney. And long-term exposure to pollutants can affect all living cells of the human body and can cause death.
Botulinum toxin is a toxin commonly found in polluted industrial areas and is the cause of clostridium botulinum in people.
What people need to do is to raise their voices against toxins, and contaminants, to protect their loved ones. Hoosier Action is playing its part against contaminants affecting humans, and now, EPA and other organizations should play their role to protect against toxins.