Chemicals

Coal Ash Stories Untold in Many Communities

The December 2008 coal-ash spill at a Tennessee power plant has been making headlines for two weeks — but few journalists realize there are coal-ash stories to be unearthed in many communities. Here are some clues for finding them.

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Industry Keeps Secret the Gas-Drilling Toxins Seeping into Drinking Wells

A series of drinking-water contamination incidents have raised doubts about EPA's safety claims regarding hydraulic fracturing in domestic gas wells. And it's hard for people to get to the bottom of those claims when the identity of the chemicals injected during the process is protected as a "trade secret."

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Many Contaminants Infiltrate Caves

Along with the usual spooky and spine-tingling sights we have come to expect in caves, another scary inhabitant is turning up — contaminants such as PCBs, pesticides, dioxins, gasoline, fertilizers, sewage, and caffeine.

These pollutants, which are leaching into caves from the surface and groundwater, can pose a threat to the delicate underground environments that are prized by many, and that provide benefits to people, plants, and animals on the surface. The presence of these contaminants underground also serves as a blunt reminder of how pervasive pollutants are.

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