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Trump’s DOE places a ticking nuclear time bomb at Hanford Site

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Calling the 177 containers at the Hanford Nuclear Site in south-central Washington state that contain high-level radioactive waste “tanks” is not a very good description. Each of these so-called “tanks” — buried in a kind of a farm of well-manicured dirt — is roughly the size of a four-story apartment building. Collectively, the 177 containers hold about 56 million gallons of some of...

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...

A GOP governor’s surprising stand against fracking

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Despite the growing evidence about problems from tainted wells to earthquakes, it’s taken a while for opposition to fracking to build, especially among our elected officials. Back in the mid-2000s when the boom in unconventional drilling for natural gas and oil was just taking off, many governors and other politicians were sold on the promise of new jobs and that natural gas would be a...

Good news and bad news in the quest for safe tap water

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Late last year, I told you about the dire situation in the small, mostly black and underprivileged Louisiana community of St. Joseph. For years, residents had complained about the brackish and discolored water that flowed from their tap. But a largely unresponsive City Hall ignored those complaints, as did mostly unaware state and federal regulators. When the city water was finally tested in...

Too early spring

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The book that triggered the environmental movement in America was Silent Spring, published by Rachel Carson in 1962. The subject of the book was the indiscriminate use of pesticides such as DDT — which was banned by the federal government a few years later, in part a result of the outcry that Carson had raised. The title refers to the fact that flagrant abuse of these chemicals was killing...

Why does W. Va. want MORE toxic water pollution?

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It wasn’t that long ago when the issue of water pollution in West Virginia was front-page national news. You may remember the incident that happened just over three years ago, in January 2014, involving a company called Freedom Industries. To paraphrase the old Janice Joplin song, “freedom” was just another word, in this case, for corporate neglect. A holding tank filled with...

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

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