Where apples once grew, contaminated soil lingers

Feb 8, 2016
Tony Schick/OPB/EarthFix

YAKIMA, Wash. -- At homes and day care centers throughout central Washington, children play in yards contaminated with lead and arsenic.

The state’s Department of Ecology knows about this, and has for decades.

But many parents and caregivers still do not, despite the risks these chemicals pose specifically to children.

Until the 1950s, Northwest apple growers spent decades spraying lead arsenate pesticides in a never-ceasing battle against the codling moth, which once threatened to derail the country’s most productive tree fruit region.

NYS takes action involving water contamination in Hoosick Falls

Jan 28, 2016

ALBANY — State officials are declaring a site in a Rensselaer County village a state Superfund site to address water contamination from a chemical used in making plastics similar to Teflon.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December warned residents of Hoosick Falls not to drink or cook with water from municipal wells after tests found contamination with PFOA, a chemical linked to cancer. The chemical was used in making high-performance plastics similar to Teflon until manufacturers agreed to phase it out by the end of 2015.


It’s something most of us take for granted. You turn on the tap, fill a glass of water and have a nice refreshing drink.

But what if that water has been deemed too contaminated to consume? That’s something residents of the Rensselaer County village of Hoosick Falls are confronted with as they try to determine how to move forward and make their water drinkable again.

“We’ve always seemed to have a higher incident of cancer here than other places.”

WATCH: How a coal plant is cleaning up its act

Jan 22, 2016
Reid Frazier, The Allegheny Front

The Homer City Generating Station rises like a cathedral out of a valley in Indiana County, just east of Pittsburgh. You can see its smokestacks and hour-glass shaped cooling towers from miles around. 

Like many coal plants around the country, workers at Homer City are busy installing pollution controls to comply with new clean air rules imposed by the EPA.

These units take out sulfur and other harmful pollutants, like mercury. Total cost? $750 million.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

When she was growing up, Julie Bundy’s parents forbade her from playing on the "slate dumps." That was their shorthand for the hundred-foot-tall pile of loose rubble that sat right in the middle of Fredericktown, the southwestern Pennsylvania coal town where her grandparents lived.

“My grandparents lived in the yellow house on the corner with the slate dumps in the back yard. As long as I can remember, it was there,” Bundy says.