A native of Tennessee, Joan Robinett was propelled into activism by the grim discovery that the mobile home park she and her family had moved to in Dayhoit, Kentucky, was located on a federal Superfund site. Unknown to residents, the well water had been massively contaminated with carcinogens by the mining machine repair company next door, and many of them, including Robinett’s young son, had developed severe but inexplicable health problems. Though they didn’t at the time suspect that something was wrong with the place where they were living, Robinett and her family moved about a mile upstream, and her son’s health began to improve. A year later, the government tested the water and began to warn people to stop using it, without revealing the severity of the problem. It was this lack of full disclosure, as well as the contamination, that spurred Robinett into becoming a community activist.
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