CategoryIllnesses

How natural gas poisoned a poor Alabama town

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It’s been going on for decades — poor towns in the Deep South, often with a predominantly black population — getting dumped on, whether it’s by Big Oil or by chemical plants or by toxic-waste disposal firms. Many of my earliest cases as an environmental lawyer were in these off-the-beaten track places such as Brookhaven, Mississippi or Martha, Kentucky, where oil companies...

The real environmental crime in places like Flint

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The last couple of years have been rough for the environment. Fracking, oil spills, and, of course, climate change, which is frequently linked to floods and other natural disasters, have made negative news from the warm waters of the Gulf to the chilly climate of northern Canada. Inevitably, these events lead for a call that somebody be held accountable. This week, a New York Times op-ed made the...

Another poor Rust Belt community is under assault by lead

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It’s almost starting to become a cliche in 2016: That this poor community or that city is poised to become “the new Flint.” It’s not surprising that such a stunning case of governmental malfeasance — allowing residents of a mid-sized, economically challenged community to drink corrosive lead-poisoned water for nearly two years — would become the new low...

Shocker: The EPA’s plan to let you drink radioactive water

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The world not long ago marked the 5th anniversary of the Fukushima reactor meltdown in Japan — an ongoing nuclear crisis that may not be cleaned up for decades, and even that may be optimistic. Lingering high radiation levels mean that swaths of northern Japan remain uninhabitable — unsafe to eat local food, breathe the air, or drink the water. To many, the 2011 Fukushima tragedy...

Is this America’s next Flint?

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America’s drinking water is under assault — from careless dumping of hazardous wastes to the lead pollution caused by our ancient infrastructure. Yet rarely do these tales of governmental neglect or industrial abuses make it onto the national radar screen. The Flint, Michigan, lead pollution story was different — a “perfect storm” that combined race, the poisoning of...

Louisiana’s Green Army declares war on polluters

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For time to time, I’ve kept readers here up to date on Gen. Russel Honore — the retired military leader who provided strong, much-needed leadership in Louisiana’s dark days after Hurricane Katrina — and his environmental group, the Green Army. At one time, there was a lot of speculation that Honore’s “army” would prove to be his foot soldiers in the...

Chernobyl: A monument to folly that may outlast human civilization

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In addition to the sixth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon spill, this month marked another grim environmental anniversary — 30 years since the April 24, 1986 nuclear accident at the Chernobyl plant in what was then the Soviet Union and is now the Ukraine. In a strange way, the fact that the accident occurred well behind the Iron Curtain of the 20th Century has left much of the Western...

Five years of Fukushima — a living monument to human folly

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Today marks the 5-year anniversary of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami that triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant. In today’s distracted world — where the worst cases of attention-deficit disorder belong to the mainstream news media — it feels as if these annual anniversaries are the only way to bring attention to any ongoing environmental crisis, from the our...

‘Cancer Alley’ is about to get 30 percent worse, if that’s possible

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Too many times in the past, I’ve taken to this blog to write about the latest pollution outrage in the stretch of Louisiana nicknamed “Cancer Alley.” If you’ve been to my native state or even flown over Louisiana bayou country, you’ve certainly seen it: Large refineries or petrochemical processing plants,  shiny, smoke-shrouded jumbles of steel pipes and massive...

“Flint’s best chance for a lawsuit”: My op-ed for the Washington Post

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In recent weeks, I’ve turned some of my attention north toward the deplorable situation in Flint, Michigan, where government bungling — or worse — caused citizens, including children, to be poisoned by lead-contaminated water. It’s clear that residents there will need to fight back by any means necessary. This weekend, I was delighted that the Washington Post’s new...

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