Happy Holidays from IJNR! During the month of December, we'll be bringing you a sampler from the "Best of 2013" - a recap of some of the best stories and series of the year from our alumni. Some of them have already been featured here on the Nooze, but many of them haven't! We hope you enjoy reading, hearing and exploring these top-notch stories as much as we have.
Today, instead of highlighting an individual alumnus, or a series, or even a publication, we'd like to shine the spotlight on some of the great reporting that came out of the first IJNR Institute of 2013: Kalamazoo River. The journalists covered a lot of ground (Read dispatches from the Kalamazoo trip here, here, and here), and learned about crude-oil spills, PCB clean-ups, Superfund sites, sturgeon, sand dunes, development, cutting-edge agriculture, and, of course, beer. Participating reporters represented a wide variety of publications, including the AP, Scientific American, National Geographic News, Native Sun News, Detroit Free Press, Canadian Geographic, Petoskey News-Review, Michigan Radio, National Driller, Tulsa World, ClimateWire and several others.
The following are some great examples of reporting that emerged following the trip. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed taking the journalists out to learn about these issues firsthand!
Kalamazoo River 2013 Post-Institute Highlights
Inside Arcadia Ales’ brewery, the air is pungent with fermenting beer, and Tim Suprise is talkingwater. The founder and president of the Battle Creek, Michigan, microbrewery recently signed on to Brewers for Clean Water, a Natural Resources Defense Council program that launched in mid-April.
Surrounded by giant sacks of malt and wooden barrels, a glass of beer appropriately in hand, Suprise told a group of journalists he’s sending a simple message: “You can’t have a sustainable culture or society without our most precious resource, and that’s water.” (Learn more about freshwater.)... Read more.
People in Kalamazoo are rallying to get rid of a major dump site that contains cancer causing waste.
Imagine decades’ worth of wood pulp and grey clay waste from the paper mill industry. There are 1.5 million cubic yards of it and it’s laced with polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs.
Now, plop it in the middle of a neighborhood.
Sarah Hill lives a little more than a mile away from what neighbors have dubbed "Mount PCB."... Read more.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Those opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline warn incessantly about dangers to aquifers, rivers and farm land, but perhaps the loudest strike comes from a distant, now quiet watershed in western Michigan.
For it was into Talmadge Creek and, ultimately, the Kalamazoo River that a ruptured Enbridge line spilled nearly a million gallons of Canadian tar sands crude oil and diluent in July 2010. The Enbridge disaster response involved thousands of people, 80 miles of shoreline, close to $1 billion and years of recriminations... Read more.
On July 26, 2010, people living along Talmadge Creek in Marshall, Mich., awoke to a sharp, sickening smell. Those who followed their noses to the creek witnessed an environmental horror.
The water flowed black and shiny. It coated turtles and waterfowl with a smelly goo. It transformed grasses and bushes along the banks from green to oily black.
Eyes watered and throats burned as people breathed in the fumes. Some developed headaches and felt sick to their stomachs.
"It was like something from a science fiction movie. It was creepy," recalls Paul Makoski... Read more.
Phil Robertson may be on the cusp of solving a long-standing mystery.
Boosters of organic food often say the practice, which rejects synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, is a good method for curbing climate change because it stores more carbon in the soil. But aside from anecdotal observations, no one could really explain the dynamics behind why organic fields keep more carbon underground than conventional ones... Read more.
Sue Connolly knew immediately that something was terribly wrong. Three years ago, the resident of Marshall, a town of 7,400 in southwestern Michigan, awoke to a burning sensation in her eyes and throat that made her and her family sick.
“There was a strong odor in the air that took your breath away,” Connolly recalls. “If you tried to take a deep breath, you would feel it all the way down to your stomach. Migraine headaches, lethargy and diarrhea followed.”
Connolly and her neighbors were among the first witnesses to the July 25, 2010, Kalamazoo River oil spill — a massive pipeline rupture that dumped nearly one million gallons of bituminous crude oil into Talmadge Creek, which feeds the Kalamazoo River... Read more.