Good news: The Environmental Protection Agency is cleaning up fewer Superfund sites (HCN, 1/19/98: Superfund strives for accountability). According to EPA spokeswoman Kerry Humphrey, the agency completed 40 projects in fiscal year 2005, compared to the 80 it averaged each year between 1997 and 2000. Humphrey says the reduction reflects the "maturing" of the agency. Critics attribute the decline to the Bush administration’s funding cuts and to the expiration of the "polluter pays" tax in 1995.
In Fallon, Nev., population 8,000, 16 cases of childhood leukemia have been documented since 1997; three of the victims have died (HCN, 3/31/03: The hunt is on for a mystery killer). University of Arizona scientists recently tested the skies over Fallon and nearby communities for heavy metals suspected to cause cancer, and found that Fallon residents are breathing significantly more tungsten and cobalt than are people in neighboring towns. The Kennametal plant, located 10 miles north of Fallon, processed tungsten carbide without air pollution controls from 1974 through 1994.
Drill a well, bag a buck; it’s all in a day’s work for some roughnecks working on drill rigs in southwest Wyoming. Wyoming Game and Fish officials are worried about a recent spate of poaching near oil and gas fields. A former rig worker admitted killing a mule deer, an antelope and four sage grouse while working on a coalbed methane well site near Rock Springs. Game and Fish and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming are discussing ways to help solve the problem, such as prohibiting employees from bringing guns to work (HCN, 8/18/03: Where the Antelope (and the Oil Companies) Play).