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Toxic Town

Patti O. White
K Lee Anderson, Patti White, Kira Remy

In 2006 a severe chemical fire in Apex, North Carolina brought the town to a screeching halt. This monstrous fire at a hazardous-waste disposal plant released a greenish-yellow cloud of deadly chlorine gas and reduced the building to molten ash and the community to an abandoned ghost town. After 17,000 people were forced to evacuate their communities, the EPA came in and investigated. So many different kinds of waste were brought into the plant and made it difficult for them to identify the cause of the fire. Eventually, EQ, the company at fault, was fined $32,000 for six violations at the plant, which could ultimately, they said, “threaten human health or the environment.”

There had been no record of what had been stored on site; all of these chemicals could have leaked into the ground, waterways, agriculture and the air. The “unsolved” fire happened a few nights before EQ’s scheduled review after facing numerous fines for storage violations and having an EPA inspection for alleged violations safety standards in 2006.

That was then, this is now. Money Magazine has rated Apex, North Carolina, a suburb of Raleigh, as one of the top ten best and safest towns in America to live in. Yet, March of 2016, ten years later, Nick and Michelette Moravick, who are Apex residents, welcomed their first child, Oliver, into the world. At five months old, Oliver was diagnosed with a very rare and fast growing form of brain cancer, AT/RT (Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor). Oliver passed away two and a half months later. His parents were left heartbroken and unresolved. It was only natural that they started to look for answers.

Recently, the local Pastor’s (who lives just down the street from the Moravicks') infant child was diagnosed with the same rare brain cancer, AT/RT and passed away. This disease is said to affect three in a million, but so far there are three in this one town, as now yet another child, a eleven-year-old girl, Callie, is in hospice care battling the same illness.

The film’s goal is to investigate the vulnerability of the area to environmental fallout. These three stories are about to collide in a different kind of explosion. With access to all three families and others in the community including people who worked at the plant and lived near it, we intend to discover if there is a connection between the horrific environmental disaster and the tragic and rare terminal illness plaguing these families. Are there more consequences to uncover?

The cinematic-style filmed interviews and beautiful landscape set-ups of the invisible damage to the town juxtaposes the doc-style investigative moments of clarity and facts and, ultimately, new revelations.

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