Johnson Co. residents turn out for meeting on Franklin environment testing

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TRAFALGAR, Ind. (WTHR) - A few dozen people, desperate for answers about why children in Johnson County have been diagnosed and died from all types of cancers for the past 10 years, came out to a gathering in Trafalgar Thursday night.

"Since the last meeting in June, we have had three children diagnosed," Stacie Davidson told those gathered.

Davidson's stepson Zane was one of the 58 diagnosed and is now in remission.

"It's not just a Franklin thing. It is a Johnson County thing, so we want everybody to be aware," Davidson added.

Davidson, along with Kari Rhinehart, who lost her 13-year-old daughter Emma Grace to a rare cancerous brain tumor, started the group "If It Was Your Child."

"What we're really hoping to accomplish is to get widescale comprehensive testing by the EPA," said Rhinehart.

Thursday, the group, along with environmental scientists from New Jersey who've done testing and discovered high levels of carcinogens in some homes in Franklin, met with concerned residents in Trafalgar.

"Nobody knows a community better than the families that live there," Shannon Lisa, with Edison Wetlands Association, the environmental group that did the initial testing, told those gathered.

The EWA encouraged residents to form a Community Advisory Group (CAG) to work with the Environmental Protection Agency.

"EPA themselves actually says that forming a CAG is one of the most effective ways a community can participate in an environmental decision," said Lisa.

"The EPA is required to send officials in to answer to that CAG. So it's a big next step for us to coordinate with the EPA on the level that we need to now," said Rhinehart.

It's a journey these parents and environmentalists know is just beginning.

"Making our voices heard and not backing down is our only option right now," said Davidson.