Who is Polluting in Your Community?

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The ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, Calif., is seen Monday, Oct. 8, 2012. For the third straight day Monday Oct. 8, 2012, the California statewide average price for a gallon of regular rose to an all-time high, hitting $4.668, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
The Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Day in and day out, the residents of the Standard Heights neighborhood in Baton Rouge watch as a century-old oil refinery, operated by Exxon Mobil, belches forth plumes of smoke in various shades of gray. The Louisiana State Department of Environmental Quality allows the facility to pump millions of pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere each year; but the company recently announced that between 2008 and 2011, the refinery accidentally leaked 4 million pounds more than they were supposed to release.

And that’s just the amount Exxon admits to. NPR and the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) reported in their 2011 “Poisoned Places” series that companies who have exposed their neighbors to risky concentrations of hazardous chemicals often underreport the chemicals released in such accidents. Regulatory loopholes and confusion between state and local environmental agencies allow them to get away with it. The VOCs leaked in Baton Rouge can cause smog and respiratory problems, like asthma — and after a major benzene spill at the facility last year, initially played down by Exxon, the refinery’s residential neighbors worry that the plant is having an adverse effect on their health.

This interactive map, compiled by NPR and CPI, shows serious polluters across America that release hazardous chemicals — including lead, mercury and arsenic — into the air or water.

Enter your zip code or click on the map at NPR.com and get information about polluters in your state.
NPR poisoned places map

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  • rche

    man oh man mercy mercy me

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-VanderPol/100000121914663 Terry VanderPol

    Interesting and disturbing. I’d really like to see included in a map like this some of the toxic impacts of industrialized agriculture. Walk down a country road in the summer in my neighborhood and you can taste the herbicide and pesticide spray on your tongue.

  • pete

    the price of progress or the price of unregulated capitalism

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Canada is doing great! MExico too!

  • sue

    Now how about a map showing radioactive (nuclear) poisoning?

  • Anonymous

    This look great, the only question I have is that there appears to be a big polluter in my neck of the woods. When I click to get more into there is page after page of tables with ‘n/a’ or dates of ‘never’ Where is the EPA’s data? I believe that they could have been big polluters, but what data do you have to back that up?

  • Martha Nell Thomson

    We need a map and info like this in Canada also

  • Stephen Comfort-Mason

    I sense a “hidden agenda” here. For instance, I drilled down through the map to be able to see specific sites. I clicked on one site in Fenton, Missouri. It was the Chrysler Assembly Plant. It has been closed for years. How can it be a major polluter when it no longer exists? The site is one of many perhaps being consider for the construction of a new football stadium.

    Others have questioned the accuracy and the lack of data. While I don’t question the existence of massive pollution, for me this map/tool lacks creditability. It looks like the work of summer interns at the Center for Public Integrity.

  • Anonymous

    I live by a ____________. They haven’t operated for years. How can they be major polluters? Asked the clueless. How about anyplace with nuke processing, heavy metals, dioxin, weapons storage…

  • elizabeth

    We know why the coal, gas, and oil industries spend billions of dollars each year to fund state, local, and federal campaigns for lawmakers willing to relax regulations; NOW we need Supreme Court to take money out of campaigns to CLEAN the AIR.

  • Joy-Ann Sanz-Agero

    Are you totally dense? This is a map of the USA and from some of the more erudite comments, it appears to be very outdated.

  • James Michael McDaniel

    We need a constitutional convention to write a new constitution that will answer the needs of our people and create a more democracy friendly government. The weaknesses shown by more than two centuries of operation can best be corrected by a new constitution using the divided powers ideas of our original document but correcting the problems shown by its subversion by power centers (as always happens).

  • jordanche

    Just silly, Bill. At least those emitters are regulated. They’re confined to industrially zoned areas too. Not one of these dots on the map was an oil and gas company. They can set up a rig ANYPLACE they want-right in your back yard, in fact. And they’re exempt from Superfund and large portions of the Clean Air Act. Not to mention how much in the way of greenhouse gases they’re sending up into the air. That industry’s ability to dodge federal regulation and pollute anyplace is going to cause a boatload of unexpected (well, not by me) contamination in the coming years, and it’s a sleeping giant. You guys are pointing to the wrong tragedy here, I’m afraid.

  • Bonnie Chandler

    I think it’s still relevant, even if a plant has closed, if the company WAS there, trashed the environment, & then left. The contamination remains, this still tells us who to watch, & it also increases awareness of the contamination when the community considers what’s going there next. So ~ not a moot point.

  • Beth Phillips

    Amen! I’ve been saying this for years.

  • Chris A Hooymans

    Opinion/Editorial – Dr. David Swann, MLA Calgary-Mountain View

    Who knew that the average Albertan burns 14,500 pounds of coal per year;
    60% of our electricity, more than all other provinces combined. Coal
    emits the most greenhouse gas in Alberta and kills more people than any
    other energy form on the planet. Asthma, chronic lung disease and
    secondary heart disease due to coal’s contribution to air pollution
    contributes to premature death in 1300 Albertans and to 8600 emergency
    room visits in 2008, based on the Canadian Medical Association

  • Nonyobidness

    The Bronx data seems a little sparse- they have the highest asthma rate in NYC. And I KNOW there are more toxic Hell-holes in Brooklyn and Queens. Maybe the EPA doesn’t bother with the inner city.

  • Waldo

    It seems like northern Montana might be a good place to live.

  • Lippylulu

    New Jesey…what IS that smell?

  • Hope

    Pollution doesn’t go “away”

  • Waldo
  • Pennington Geis

    I haven’t checked recently, but when I was wondering why I got thyroid cancer six years ago, the Dept of Energy had a database that allowed you to plug in the county you lived during what year, along with your age, and they returned your increased risk for thyroid cancer from airborne fallout from the Nevada Test Site. A note mentioned that your risk was higher if you drank fresh local milk from grass-fed cows. Which I had.