Report finds no hazards at school in center of eye cancer cluster

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Eyewitness News obtained results from the first round of testing at a Huntersville High School linked to a cluster of rare eye cancer cases.

The nearly 400-page report found the school site was mostly used for agriculture, but there was an old gold mine nearby, and there are natural gas storage tanks. But families said the information found in the report is just skimming the surface, and there are still too many unanswered questions.

Kenny Colbert has been fighting to learn what could have caused roughly a dozen people with ties to Hopewell High to get a rare eye cancer. His daughter was one of them.

"Beautiful young girl, who doesn't fit the profile," he said.

After pushing for testing, Wednesday on the two-year anniversary of his daughter's funeral, he reviewed the first phase of the report.

"There are enough concerns in this report to tell us that we need to go to phase two. and we need to dig digger," Colbert said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials contracted the company Hart & Hickman to assess the 76-acre property.

They found "no evidence of recognized environmental conditions" or hazardous substance based solely on observations, including interviews and old hazmat reports.

"I would still like to see them pull some soil samples, some air samples," Colbert said.

Officials are pushing for more testing but admit they don't expect to find a concrete cause.

"It's such a rare disease. It's hard to determine what could possibly cure it. The most important thing is to cancel out potential causes," Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla said.

They hope answering lingering questions about Hopewell will give families peace of mind.

"Until you get in there and find out, you'll always have that cloud of doubt," Colbert said.

County Commissioner Jim Puckett is also pushing for another phase of testing. Eyewitness News asked the district if it is committing to another phase and is waiting for a response.

The district paid $4,900 for the first assessment.

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