Through my membership in New England Science Writers, I’ve found a contract with Environmental Data Resources, Inc. (EDR), a company which publishes a blog about toxic Superfund sites and brownfields.
A brownfield is a contaminated area such as an old factory or other industrial site. Many brownfields are in low-income urban areas. Chicago, where I lived for 18 years, is dotted with them.
A Superfund site is a highly contaminated place which is monitored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA and other organizations analyze which chemicals are present and clean the sites up as funds are available.
I wrote the following news summaries for the EDR website. Some of them have been altered slightly by my clients.
- Petrochemicals Shut Down Ujima Village tells the story of how environmental contaminants can make it harder to achieve the American Dream. Ujima Village, a community built near Los Angeles in the 1970s, was created to provide economic opportunity for working class African Americans. Now, the buildings are being demolished because the land was contaminated by its previous owner, ExxonMobil. In my opinion, this should have been reported as a national story, not just a local one.
- Army Cleans Up Chemical Weapons Site in District of Columbia includes the surprising news that a 660 acre-site in Washington, DC was formerly used for munitions manufacturing – including chemical weapons construction. The Army is cleaning up toxic sites in this area gradually.
- Superfund Site Remains in Questionable Condition after Hurricane Sandy summarizes the story of a controversy which has been brewing in New York and New Jersey. Since Hurricane Sandy, evidence has emerged that lead from a Superfund site has spread into a playground. The details are unclear. A New Jersey politician has requested additional investigation of Superfund sites in the state.
- Natural Foods Co-op Will Revive Brownfield in the Berkshires tells the optimistic story of a community which is reclaiming polluted industrial land by introducing a number of health-related businesses, including a food co-op. The new construction will also include rental housing, assisted living, and offices.
- EPA Plans to Restore a Contaminated Site near Philadelphia tells the somewhat sordid story of a former electroplating site which became a meth lab. The EPA plans to remove contaminated soil from the ground and has already removed the chemicals related to drug use and manufacturing. Local residents have been given bottled water to reduce their exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.