Testing for eye cancer cluster to continue at Hopewell HS, officials say

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — There will be more testing at Hopewell High School for links to a cluster of rare eye cancer cases, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials said.

A partnership is in the works to expand testing.

The district hired a third-party contractor to do environmental testing at the Huntersville school after several people were diagnosed with ocular melanoma.

The contractor said there was no need for further testing but Channel 9 learned that Mecklenburg County, the town of Huntersville and leaders within CMS don't plan to give up.

Channel 9 reported earlier in June that the district has completed phase one of the testing and found nothing that warranted additional tests.

Officials examined interviews, property and hazmat records.

Families wanted a second phase of testing to look at soil and groundwater samples.

But leaders are not giving up.

Channel 9 learned one commissioner is pushing Mecklenburg County, the town of Huntersville and CMS to partner and share costs for more testing on the campus and other sites around Huntersville.

"What I’m looking to do is a base line environmental study, testing of soil and water and air, that just essentially captures what's there," said Commissioner Jim Puckett.

Puckett said the findings could be crucial years from now in case new research uncovers a cause that scientists aren't aware of right now.

Channel 9 got reaction from a couple who lost their daughter to the rare illness.

“To know that our city and our county are behind us, and they're trying to look into, and turn over every stone, and make sure our community is safe, that's a comfort for us," one family said.

Ocular melanoma affects only five people in 1 million, but at least a half-dozen cases have been found among people who have either lived or worked in Huntersville.

The possible link between the cases remains a mystery.

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