Wasted Places is a collaborative investigation by six nonprofit newsrooms into federal and state programs designed to clean up and redevelop polluted tracts known as brownfields. The project was coordinated by the Investigative News Network, and reported and written by the Connecticut Health Investigative Team, City Limits, Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and INN.
National story Slow, underfunded EPA program falls short in toxic site cleanups Despite about $1.5 billion doled out by the Environmental Protection Agency over 19 years, hundreds of thousands of abandoned and polluted properties known as “brownfields” continue to mar communities across the country. The shortcomings are due to limited funds, a lack of federal oversight, endless waits for approvals and dense bureaucratic processes that make it difficult for poor and sparsely populated neighborhoods to compete against larger and middle-class communities that have the means to figure them out. This story was published by INN, NBCNews.com and the Investigative Reporting Workshop, among other sites.
National map Browse the 17,000 sites that have received federal brownfields funding for assessing contamination. Produced by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Recession worsens brownfields backlog in Wisconsin While the state has made some progress in the past two decades, a “startling” number of plant closings during the recent recession has created “an entirely new generation of brownfields,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Connecticut Health I-Team Toxic sites: Hazardous, hard to develop Nearly every Connecticut community is laced with sites tainted by contaminants like lead, mercury, asbestos, PCBs, or petroleum. These sites often wait years to get cleanup funding, and Connecticut delegates most of its authority to private engineers who are rarely audited in full.
City Limits A tale of two brownfields Even as a New York City program for cleaning up contaminated sites shows promise, two tainted areas in Brooklyn reflect different challenges that remediation can face – like pricetags and politics.
IowaWatch Iowa cities, towns miss opportunities when cleaning contaminated land Iowa cities and counties are not tapping into programs that would pay the costs of cleaning up these blighted, brownfield areas. Some city council members and others in local government leadership do not even know the programs exist — and those who do are often daunted by the costs and paperwork of the application.
New England Center for Investigative Reporting Toxic sites threaten health, environment in Mass. More than $100 million of taxpayer money has been spent over the last two decades to clean up a toxic mix of chemicals that has contaminated land, tainted waterways and imperiled the health of residents throughout Massachusetts. Yet, despite that costly undertaking, thousands of contaminated sites remain.
The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.