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Asbestos Town

Asbestos Town

Old factory complexes across North Carolina are finding new lives, but in downtown Davidson, developers have tried for years to redevelop an aging cotton mill without success. That's because cancer-causing asbestos is buried on the site. Between the cost of cleanup and the risk of stirring up asbestos, nobody has been willing to take on the job.

In a three-part series that began Jan. 25, 2021, WFAE reporter David Boraks looks at the history of asbestos in Davidson, the attempts to renovate the mill and how contamination in the historically Black neighborhood nearby has stirred up old tensions.
RESOURCE
SPECIAL PROGRAM
IN THIS SERIES
  • A Charlotte company wants to redevelop the 130-year-old Linden Cotton Mill in downtown Davidson as offices, shops and maybe a brewery or restaurant. But the factory also once made asbestos products, and the five-acre site is contaminated. In Part 3 of WFAE's series Asbestos Town, environmental reporter David Boraks looks at the status of the redevelopment and concern in the historically African American neighborhood around it.
  • Asbestos contamination from an old factory in Davidson is not just an environmental concern on site. It's also a problem throughout the historically African American neighborhood nearby. Today, in the second of our three-part series Asbestos Town, WFAE environmental reporter David Boraks looks at how Davidson is still dealing with the legacies of its asbestos-producing past, including long-simmering distrust from the Black community.
  • Here's a familiar story in the Charlotte region: An old brick textile mill is turned into something hip — a brewery, apartments or a food hall. It happens all the time, but attempts to redevelop a 130-year-old cotton mill in downtown Davidson have failed. The problem is cancer-causing asbestos. In Part 1 of our series Asbestos Town, environmental reporter David Boraks examines how asbestos became such a problem there.
CONVERSATIONS
  • Asbestos is also scattered across the town and buried in neighborhoods where it was once used as fill material in people’s yards. Along with health and environmental concerns, there’s a deep sense of distrust among some longtime residents. Many in the town’s historically Black neighborhood have lost loved ones to what they believe were asbestos-related diseases.
  • On Feb. 1, WFAE reporter David Boraks moderated a discussion with Davidson Mayor Rusty Knox, developer Mark Miller and Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, on the impact of asbestos contamination on a historically Black neighborhood in the town and efforts to redevelop the site of the old Linden Mill, where the asbestos originated.
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