Workers exposed occupationally to toxic chemicals and other safety threats are often the first sign of danger to the general population. A new portal combining Labor Department enforcement databases offers environmental journalists a new tool for exploring such stories.
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"Inside Story" editor Beth Daley interviews Charleston (WV) Gazette reporter Ken Ward Jr. — who is recognized nationally for his reporting on coal mining, the environment and workplace safety — about his unique work on the Freedom Industries spill story. Photo: The FI tank which leaked a coal-cleaning chemical into the river on Jan. 9, 2014, contaminating the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginians for weeks. Credit: Commercial Photography Services of WV via USCSB.SEJ Publication Types:Region:
Just claiming something as "confidential business information" is not enough. Wyoming's Supreme Court said the state's drillers, and state regulators, bear the burden of showing why they are withholding disclosure of the often-toxic chemicals pumped underground in fracking operations.
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Journalist Ivan Oransky posted on his blog a critical assessment on January 30, 2014, of a new embargo policy set by the CSB. He found requirements not to seek comment or confirmation of material in an embargoed report "alarming." Unlike many government agencies, the CSB took another look at its policy, and revised it.Topics on the Beat:
You read about the 300,000 West Virginians who don't know if they are drinking safe water — and ask "Could it happen here?" The answer is "You betcha!" Environmental journalists have many tools for discovering drinking-water disasters-waiting-to-happen in their own bailiwicks.
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Environmental journalists who want to explore the impacts of toxic substances on wildlife, fish, and plants can get help from a little-known EPA database. Online and searchable, ECOTOX has gotten better over the years, making it useful for reporters as well as scientists.
Environmental journalists may find a story by asking about the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a nearby coal-burning power plant or major chemical refinery. A new online EPA database gives information about the largest GHG emitters, makes the query easier and the answers more accurate.
A New Jersey chemical company, Elementis Chromium, will have to pay a $2.6 million fine for failing to disclose information about the toxicity of hexavalent chromium to workers, in violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).