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A much-needed first step toward saving Louisiana’s wetlands

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My native state of Louisiana seems to lead the nation in environmental disasters – both the unseen, slow-motion variety (like the state’s notorious “Cancer Alley,” where low-income residents drink and breathe the toxins from a miles-long wall of petrochemical plants) and the more dramatic kind like 2010’s BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, which caused the worst offshore oil spill in American...

We can stop America’s surge in opioid-dependent babies. Here’s how

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Imagine a massive public health crisis in the United States that affects tens of thousands of people. Now imagine that the government had a simple tool at its disposal that could prevent this kind of physical and psychological trauma. You might think that I’m writing about America’s deadly outbreak of gun violence, which has made headlines this summer from Dayton to El Paso. But actually I’m...

How Big Oil is working to take away your 1st Amendment rights

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Pretty soon, you won’t be able to walk down the street in my native Louisiana without tripping across an oil or natural gas pipeline. OK, so that’s a slight exaggeration, but after a decade of unending petrochemical growth fueled largely by the surge in fracking across the country, it seems that as soon as one pipeline is finished, a new one is announced. Last week, the energy company Tellurian...

Top health expert warns of drinking-water risks in Piketon radiation case

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One thing that I’ve found to be a constant in more than 25 years of working cases around pollution from radiation: A good outside expert will often tell citizens the things that government or big business simply can’t or won’t. In most of my major radiation cases against the world’s largest oil companies, we’ve conducted our own testing to convincingly show that giant firms like Chevron and Exxon...

How fracking is turning America’s great rivers radioactive and spreading cancer risks to anyone exposed

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It sounds almost too impossible to believe: Radioactive, toxic waste — ounce for ounce, one of the most dangerous substances known to man — dumped into major sewage plants, screwing up the works and then flowing into some of America’s most scenic and important waterways, passing through highly populated areas. But that is exactly what is happening across the state of Pennsylvania...

A small Louisiana town is fighting pollution — and winning

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I’ve written a lot over the last decade about Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” the stretch along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge down past New Orleans that’s practically wall-to-wall with the bright red flares and shiny steel tangled guts of chemical plants and oil refineries that exploit the rich natural resources of my native state. The non-stop pollution of the air and water that led to the...

The new book that says everything you know about radiation is wrong

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The recent release and popularity of the HBO series Chernobyl reminded its several million viewers — regular folks — of something that many experts have been worried about for decades: That the nuclear-industrial complex that’s been mining uranium since the middle of the 20th Century to make both atomic bombs and atomic energy is increasingly a hazard to human health. Many people have...

The world is realizing that Jeff Bezos has lost control of Amazon

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These have been tough times for the world’s formerly richest man — Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos — and it has nothing to do with his divorce settlement that cost him a whopping $38 billion payout to his ex-wife McKenzie Bezos. I don’t care about Bezos’ private life and neither should you, but have you noticed that his public company is falling apart? Consumers, warehouse workers...

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...

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...

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