Poisoned Places, Neglected Communities

Nov 11, 2011

Congress strengthened The Clean Air Act over twenty years ago, but air pollution is still a concern in cities and towns all over America.  NPR's special investigation, Poisoned Places looks at some of the factories and power plants that are polluting the air and poisoning communities.

Some of these communities suffer from industrial facilities who violate the law for months or years before regulators act.  Still others live with pollution that's potentially dangerous, but well within the law.  But when regulators notice violations for more than nine months without  cracking down, the EPA puts the facility on a confidential "watch list."  This list constitutes a rogue's gallery of the country's worst and most consistent polluters.  NPR and the Center for Public Integrity obtained the latest secret "watch list" via a Freedom of Information Act request.  The September list alone had more nearly 400 offenders nationwide.

NPR's reporting turned up a few notable violators in Mid Missouri.  The EPA labeled Columbia Municipal Power Plant (just about two miles from the University of Missouri) as a "High Priority Violator."  And in Jefferson City,  an industrial facility owned by ConocoPhilips spent 14 months under the label.  Neither plant holds "High Priority Violator"  status as of this September, but both remain on the wider "watch list."

Check out the four stories in the NPR series below, and find your community in the interactive map:

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Learn more about the data and how NPR and the CPI put this map together.