Hero of the Week: Tracy Danzey Who Walked Across Denmark In Protest
Photo: Emily Vaughn, WVpublic.org
Earlier this week, we attended a DC screening of the excellent movie starring Mark Ruffalo entitled “Dark Waters” that opens today in theaters and were impressed with all the real-life heroes portrayed in the film. And then we heard about Tracy. Tracy was born and raised in Parkersburg, WV, (the setting for the film) where as a kid she was a competitive swimmer and regularly spent 5-8 hours a day unknowingly swimming in water tainted by DuPont with toxic PFAS (or C-8) chemicals. In 1998, she moved to Shepherdstown, WV to attend school to become a nurse. In 2000, she discovered that her thyroid had ceased functioning properly (an established side-effect of C8 exposure). Her health took a turn for the worse again in 2005, when she learned she was suffering from a rare form of Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in her hip. Her childhood dog had died from same disease in its hip only 5 years earlier. To survive, she had to amputate her leg above the hip.
Fast forward to today, Tracy is a mom and she is also the President of a local environmental group in her town. She spends her “spare” time opposing the construction by a Danish insulation company, Rockwool, of a major manufacturing facility that will be permitted to burn 80 metric tons of coal and 45,000 cubic meters of fracked gas a day less than 400 meters from an elementary school and in the center of Jefferson County, WV’s poorest and most vulnerable community. This month, she walked 100 km across Denmark to ask, in her words, “the most environmentally conscious people in the world” for help in her community’s fight to stop Rockwool from poisoning Jefferson County and it’s children, air, water, and land. She refuses to let other children in her community suffer a future of illness and hardship due to preventable pollution. Wow. From “Dark Waters” to dark skies, we cannot think of a person more deserving of our admiration and support than Tracy.
To Go Deeper: Listen to this NPR report about the Rockwool fight and Tracy’s walk. And read more about Tracy here.