News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, July 10, 2012
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. -- Businesses have closed. Weeds have grown thicker. Now, a layer of rust coats the ruins of a once thriving mill town.
For many in Graniteville, the train derailment and chlorine spill is still a disaster they live with.
"Most everybody was just shell-shocked. You know, it was like living in a movie yourself that you couldn't get out of," said Tina Bevington, a Community Investigator at the GRACE Study Center.
Bevington says the brand new facility in Graniteville offers some fancy equipment, including a breathing box.
"This was donated by Tulane University over the grant funding," she said of the tool, more technically referred to as a
That grant funding comes from the National Institute of Health. Scientists from all over the country are here to study the long-term health effects of the chlorine spill.
"It's hard to imagine this was the judge's offices beforehand, but I think they've done a pretty good job," she said.
The GRACE Study Center is now looking for 670 people who used to work at Graniteville Company or Avondale Mills. They'll also need to have had their lungs tested at least three times before the spill.
"They can find out just by using that machine how much lung function you have versus how much you don't have," said Bevington of the breathing box.
She says she's no scientist, but she believes the data they collect will show permanent lung damage throughout the community.
"I know. I know people have lost lung function over time. I have very good friends who are ill," Bevington said.
Of course, this study just doesn't benefit scientific understanding. The free lung screenings mill-workers are getting are valued at about $7,500 a piece, and that's medical data participants can take back to their physicians for other treatments.
They'll also be offering less-involved screenings for people who were not mill-workers. For more information call the GRACE Study Center at 803-663-5004.