Disagreement About Dealing With the Problem continued...
With no paid staff, last year the charity raised thousands of dollars for local families that have children with cancer. They were even able to pass on a used car to a family whose car had lost its air conditioning in the middle of daily trips for chemotherapy in the heat of summer.
Though they believe the needs in Waycross are greater than in other areas, and privately share concerns about environmental pollution, Goble says they want nothing to do with Silent Disaster.
“The way they have gone about trying to identify if there are any issues has been gone about in an antagonistic way,” Goble says.
In Waycross, a town of 15,000 people and nearly 100 churches, the Gobles don’t see any bad actors, only neighbors, employers, and plenty of families in dire circumstances.
At a recent high school football game, the group honored 50 area children with cancer as part of an annual fundraising event for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. As local cancer families gathered in the center of the stadium, the band played "Amazing Grace." Volunteers from Mattie’s Mission sent 4,000 gold balloons soaring into a nearly cloudless blue sky.
Some family members wore shirts emblazoned with the CSX logo. The company employes more than 1,200 people in the area. Others in attendance wore a T-shirt sold to raise money for the kids. In bold letters, the shirt read, “No fear, just faith.”
Waycross Mayor John Knox, who’s serving his second term, says that while they’re concerned for all the families who are living with cancer, there’s nothing to suggest something in the environment has caused it.
“I’m not a scientist,’’ he says. “We have to listen to the experts, and the experts all say there’s no problem.”
Did Regulators Fail the Town?
In 2013, before the cancer cluster investigation had started, Silent Disaster asked the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to test the soil and water around the homes of sick residents. The agency agreed and took samples at six homes -- far less testing than the group had pushed for.