Reveal: Toxic burden

This week, Reveal goes to places where poisonous chemicals are so deadly they can devastate a town. And they all have one thing in common: The people in these towns are overwhelmingly black, brown and poor. Through the dangerous combination of racist attitudes and cheap land, polluting industries are often avoiding responsibility – all while the government turns a blind eye. By Reveal staff. Image: Anna Vignet for Reveal

We start in Columbus, Mississippi, where we meet Arthur Parker, a man who lives just down the street from a field where an energy and chemical plant used to be. People on his street started getting sick and neighbors noticed an oily substance in the soil in their backyards. Sharon Lerner, an investigative reporter with The Intercept, went to Columbus to learn more about what was in the dirt.

Next, we go back to Anniston, Alabama, where David DesRoches, a reporter with our partner WNPR, tells us how toxic PCBs made their way into our environment. PCBs are chemicals that were created to withstand extreme heat and pressure and were once widely used in insulation before being banned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lastly, we head to Flint, Michigan, for an update on that city’s water crisis. Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith has covered this story since the very beginning of the controversy and her award-winning documentary, “Not Safe to Drink,” aired on Reveal last year.

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Reveal is a weekly radio program produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. For more, check out our website and subscribe to our podcast.

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