IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — Neighbors in Iredell County may finally get answers to the alarming rates of thyroid cancer in their community thanks to some new evidence. 

Neighbors brought practical questions up to county leaders, such as ‘is it safe to go to restaurants that have coal ash underneath?’ 

They were given very long winded answers, but were basically encouraged to get their property tested for radon. As for the link and the reason for the thyroid cancer cluster, researchers say they’re now looking past the water, into the air and the soil. 

“Someone I work with at Panera she has thyroid cancer and she is 17 so it’s just… you just don’t know,” neighbor Michelle Nabbie said.   


Mooresville neighbors just want a reason and remedy for the thyroid cancer cluster.

“Knowing that the water isn’t a concern, that’s major.”

Nabbie and her husband moved to Mooresville last year and had no idea the county has an alarming number of thyroid cancer cases. To be specific, it’s twice the rate in North Carolina. 
“Having a brand new baby, we were concerned about what the causes are. Could it be the water? Is she going to be affected if she goes to school?”  

Senator Vickie Sawyer lives near Marshal Steam Station and is also concerned for her two daughters.

“I live and eat and breath this every day of my life” Senator Vickie Sawyer said. 

Thursday night researchers at Duke University and ounty medical leaders said they can’t point a finger at one thing causing the problem. Radiation is the only environmental exposure clearly linked to cancer.

“We have really drilled down how we are going to fix and find answers to questions the community is asking,” Sawyer said. 
Researchers previously looked at water samples and found nothing out of the ordinary. Now they want to investigate air and soil samples. A thryoid cancer panel is set for Monday, May 13 at UNC Chapel Hill. 

“It’s going to be a long time until we really get those answers,” said Nabbie. 

After the meeting Thursday night, Duke Energy released a statement regarding air quality around the Marshall Steam Station: 

Duke University scientists made it clear tonight that their research shows no evidence of coal ash contamination in drinking water in Mooresville. However, tonight’s panel gave an incomplete answer during the Q&A session, in response to a resident question about whether coal ash could be distributed via Marshall Steam Station’s air emissions.

The full answer is that the electrostatic precipitators which have been in place at Marshall Steam Station since the early 1970s remove more than 99% of the ash generated from coal combustion. The addition of flue gas scrubbers in 2006-07 increased this ash capture efficiency to better than 99.7%.

Duke Energy continues to comply with very strict emissions controls that keep the public and environment safe. Whether you’re talking air, soil or water, extensive testing and research demonstrates residents are safe from potential coal ash impacts.