CategoryHuman Interest

Radiation fears rock southern Ohio: ‘If you have half a thyroid, you’re doing good’

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First came the shock and the anger that the federal government had known about radioactive pollution at a middle school attended by their children and told no one for two years. But now the residents of Pike County, Ohio, are beginning to take stock of the possible impact that contamination from the government’s Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant has had on the health of their community, and they...

Hackers, ‘virtual assault rifles,’ and how Jeff Bezos has lost control of Amazon

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Has Jeff Bezos lost control of the giant tech monster that he created, Amazon? That’s what I’m starting to wonder after a series of beyond-unfortunate — and at times remarkable — events that my law partner Barry J. Cooper Jr. and I have had in dealing with the world’s largest online retailer. It all started with a computer hack, then escalated with the hackers’ purchase of thousands...

America has grossly undercounted its opioid-dependent babies. They deserve justice

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They cry every night, and yet they are unheard — the hundreds of thousands of American babies born in this century to mothers hooked on opioids, a manmade crisis fueled by the greed of some of the nation’s biggest pharmaceutical companies. One reason that everyday Americans don’t know as much as they should about these children born into what the doctors call Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome...

In Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley,’ inaction makes a sick town even sicker

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Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley” is America’s worst-kept secret. I know this because I’ve been writing about the state’s perilous and often unsightly stretch of chemical plants, oil refineries and other industrial plants ever since I started this blog nearly a decade ago, aiming to call attention to a major public health hazard in our midst. My native state has one of the nation’s highest rates of...

New disclosure lifts lid on government cover-up of radioactive pollution in Ohio

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A surprise admission by a top federal administrator is raising some shocking new questions about how much that kids going to a nearby middle school and neighbors of a southern Ohio uranium-processing plant have been exposed to radioactive pollution during recycling efforts there since the start of the new millennium. Paul Dabbar, undersecretary of science for the U.S, Department of Energy...

A stunning case of kids, radioactivity and government neglect emerges in Ohio

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In 2017, federal regulators from the U.S. Department of Energy testing the neighborhood around a 20th century uranium plant in Pike County, Ohio, made a startling discovery in the air near a middle school attended by hundreds of local children — traces of neptunium-237, an extremely radioactive particle, typically a by-product from nuclear reactors. But what happened next was even more...

Seven years after Deepwater Horizon, and we haven’t learned much

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It was seven years ago yesterday that BP’s Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people and triggering an environmental catastrophe that in many ways has continued to this day. It is a moment I will never forget: I was in a small plane flying over the Gulf that next morning, watching the thick black plume of smoke with a mixture of shock and alarm. That soon gave way...

Louisiana’s wetlands do not need this

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The big, potentially positive story in Louisiana environmental circles has been the push to restore the state’s depleted wetlands. It had become increasingly clear that something had gone terribly wrong in the Bayou State, where the swamps define a way of life — and also perform a very important role. These reedy marshes — as regular readers know well by now — are...

A pro-Trump Louisiana town ditches fossil fuels

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The main topic on this blog in the last few years has been the danger posed by society’s addiction to fossil fuels — an addiction we continue to feed with more and more offshore drilling in the Gulf and elsewhere, with fracking that pollutes our environment and causes earthquakes, and with pipelines that leak and taint our sources of pure drinking water. But in politics they have a...

Louisiana can’t afford to do nothing about its shrinking wetlands

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Restoring wetlands is certainly an expensive proposition. Even with monies available from sources such as the massive settlement that BP reached with Louisiana, the federal government and other Gulf states over the Deepwater Horizon spill, officials struggle to come up with all the funds needed to replenish coastline and bring back to life marshes and bayous that have been destroyed by energy...

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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