In this photo, I’m holding a picture of my brother, who died from a rare heart condition at the young age of 31. A neighbor died from the same condition. Both of them worked at the local coal plant. The health problems in our community don’t stop there—they’re widespread and growing. I’m doing everything I can to protect my community. Until we value people over profits, dirty industries like the one in my neighborhood will never be made to truly clean up.
It's hard for people to breathe; too many have asthma in our tribe. The tribe has so many complaints that have gone unaddressed, because profits continue to be placed before people
My brother died young, at age 31. He worked at the [Reid Gardner Generating Station] coal plant and he left a space in my heart that has never been filled. He died of a rare heart disease (cardiomyopathy) and soon after, our neighbor died of the same disease.
I worked for the coal plant for a month and it was so filthy. When I came back home, my clothes were black. Even with my mask on, my nose and throat were full of coal dust and my throat was inflamed.
Walking on hills outside of the coal plants, the [coal combustion] waste has been growing over the years. It's hard for people to breathe; too many have asthma in our tribe. The tribe has so many complaints that have gone unaddressed, because profits continue to be placed before people.
Before Earthjustice and the Sierra Club stepped in, no one cared. People in our tribe are dying. Our children are sick.
As a mother, I am determined to do everything in my power to fight to protect my community from the coal ash that surrounds our tribe.