Energy & enviro issues press Pa. communities

  • Emily Previti, PA Post

“Broke in Philly,” a project that combines efforts from 29 newsrooms (including some of our partners), is up for a national Online Journalism Award for Excellence in Collaboration and Partnerships. PA Post is nominated for an award for its Three Mile Island 40th anniversary project. Winners will be announced Saturday night. Check out all the nominees here. -Emily Previti, Newsletter Producer/Reporter

‘They were killing off our bugs’

Gary Kruppa is in charge of Belle Vernon's sewage treatment plant. He recently discovered that naturally-occurring radioactive material found in the Marcellus shale was making it from the nearby Westmoreland landfill through the treatment plant and into the Monongahela River.

Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Gary Kruppa is in charge of Belle Vernon’s sewage treatment plant. He recently discovered that naturally-occurring radioactive material found in the Marcellus shale was making it from the nearby Westmoreland landfill through the treatment plant and into the Monongahela River.

  • Residual waste from natural gas drilling made its way into the Monongahela River and created problems for one community’s wastewater treatment facility. It’s a complicated story involving state regulators and loopholes in Pa. law. One superintendent at a Western Pa. plant talked about his concerns and the ongoing public health risks with Reid Frazier for this StateImpact Pennsylvania story. Best quote: “They were killing off our bugs. Our bugs are what treats the water.”

  • Contamination of a different kind prompted a recycling policy change in the middle of the state. With more than 15,000 recycling bins spread over nearly 13 square miles, Penn State’s main campus generates a lot of product for the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority. The university has decided to stop accepting three types of plastic — including bags and wrap — that are nearly impossible to recycle unless they are properly cleaned and sorted, WPSU’s Min Xian reports. Recycling rules are changing all over Pennsylvania (and the rest of the country), a trend tackled this week on a Smart Talk episode. Listen in full here.

  • Environmentalists are demanding accountability for millions of dollars in bonuses paid to executives from Philadelphia Energy Solutions as the company goes through bankruptcy following an explosion and fire this summer that prompted the refinery to close without a remediation plan for the site or much notice for workers. Catalina Jaramillo has the full story for WHYY.

Best of the rest

FILE – In this April 16, 2019 file photo, a woman exhales while vaping from a Juul pen e-cigarette in Vancouver, Wash. Schools have been wrestling with how to balance discipline with treatment in their response to the soaring numbers of vaping students. Using e-cigarettes, often called vaping, has now overtaken smoking traditional cigarettes in popularity among students, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, one in five U.S. high school students reported vaping the previous month, according to a CDC survey. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

  • State health officials are linking vaping to as many as three dozen Pennsylvanians’ lung disease diagnoses. They’re investigating further amid hundreds of similar cases nationwide. Transforming Health’s Brett Sholtis took a closer look in this story.

  • Concerns about vaping-related illness could prompt the Trump administration to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, according to multiple reports on Wednesday. Here’s the New York Times story about the possible move.

  • Our partners at Spotlight PA dropped the investigative consortium’s first story on Wednesday. Sara Simon reports that hiccups in rolling out a new licensing system for nurses in Pennsylvania isn’t fixing the long-standing problems it was designed to address and, in fact, is causing new ones — all while charging higher fees for licenses to professionals in 29 different fields. Read more here.

  • Vice President Mike Pence visited the National Flight 93 memorial outside Shanksville, Somerset County, for a Sept. 11 commemoration ceremony yesterday. Chris Potter covered the event for WESA and has this story.


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