Two years after Newsdesk.org first examined high levels of air pollution in West Oakland, progress towards helping this community breathe easier is moving slowly. Thorny projects, including cleanups at the port and a local Superfund site, are hard to k…
Alison Soman, her husband John and their five-year-old son Ben live in perhaps the loudest area in San Jose. Their home in the Newhall-Sherwood neighborhood sits within steps of Highway 880, a train yard sits about 1,500 feet to the east and San Jose International Airport is just beyond that. Photo (c) by Donovan Farnham
Yet Alison said her family has gotten used to the planes, trains and, particularly, the whoosh of the automobiles. “The neighbors and I joke about it being the beach,” she said. The San Jose Toxic Tour is produced by the San Jose State University journalism students of Professor Michael Cheers, in collaboration with Newsdesk.org.
In the kickoff to Here in the City’s “Air Check: petroleum and air pollution from a community perspective,” Sara Harris interviews Chip Jacobs and William Kelly, the authors of “Smogtown: The lung-burning history of pollution in Los Angeles.”
I’m knee deep in Smogtown: The Lung-burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles by Chip Jacobs and William Kelley. It’s written like the pair wishes they were really James Elroy, but it’s chock-full of archival research and unbelievable anecdotes about just how toxic the miasma called air was in Los Angeles before the oil companies and defense manufacturers were ever subject to regulation.
Newsdesk.org’s award-winning, crowd-funded “Toxic Tour” is expanding to Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, where we’ll put the neglected issues and neighborhoods “on the map,” and create a new model for independent journalism.
A legacy of toxic pollution lingers in San Francisco’s Hunters Point Shipyard, which was once a booming hub for wartime construction efforts, but now is largely shuttered and represents a constant threat to the health of marginalized communities that live nearby. The U.S. Navy and diverse community groups are at odds over the best way to address the problem.
Would you like to bring the award-winning “Toxic Tour” reporting project to Los Angeles? Newsdesk.org and Spot.Us welcome proposals from journalists interested in developing new coverage of pollution and environmental health in Los Angeles communities. Proposals are due Nov. 12 for short-term projects using text and multimedia to document pollution and communities in greater Los Angeles. Topics include neighborhoods, economics, industry, land use, transportation, politics, activism, environment and health.
Far from isolated mega-catastrophes — such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska’s Prince William Sound — oil spills occur routinely around the world, causing environmental and economic damage, provoking investigations by regional governments, and often leaving the victims unsatisfied. Entering the words “oil spill” in the Google News search engine returned more than 2,500 distinct articles published in the last 30 days on the topic. At the top of the news right now is the 100-foot fountain of petroleum that smothered the Canadian town of Burnaby this week, after a pipeline was pierced by a road-excavation crew. Fifty homes were evacuated and the contamination spread to the nearby Burrard Inlet, a harbor and wetlands ecosystem home to a variety of marine wildlife, including four species of salmon. Experts told the Canadian Press that the cleanup will cost millions, and that the toxic effects of petroleum in soil, sand and water could last for decades.