Monday, May 2, 2016

Environmental Reporters Shine Light on Environmental Injustice

Scott Fallon on Twitter

By Jonathan Sanzari

The environmental writing class was visited recently by a staff writer for The Record, Scott Fallon, who covers environmental stories. He wore what you would typically see in newsrooms: a button-up shirt, a tie and khaki pants. He stopped by the classroom to pass on his own experience about getting into environmental writing, among other topics.

Fallon told us that he isn’t an avid hiker or into advocating for an eco-friendlier planet. Most likely, because that would be a journalistic violation. He decided to cover environmental stories for The Record, he said, because he believes in responsibility. He wants to put the spotlight on companies and individuals that are causing environmental injustices. 

He wants the companies to clean-up after the mess they leave behind. He used an anecdote about his daughter as an analogy to get his point across as to why he got into environmental reporting. He said, “My daughter spilt milk on the kitchen floor and I teach her to take responsibility for your actions. She has to clean up after herself.” 

Fallon feels the same way about how Ford Motor Company thought that they could avoid taking responsibility for their paint sludge that they didn’t properly dispose of. That was until the "Toxic Legacy" articles by former Record staff writer Jan Barry with an investigative team of fellow reporters, came out and put them under public pressure. Soon after, the site where Ford dumped the paint sludge was relisted as a Superfund site that the US Environmental Protection Agency ordered to be properly cleaned up.

Fallon believes in leaving behind a livable planet for future generations. Many companies continue to be negligent to the proper disposal of chemicals that they use in their products. However, reporters like Fallon and Barry aren’t scared to expose the company for the environmental contamination they have committed. 

We should be grateful for reporters who work to inform the community about undisputable facts that could lead to health risks in their own backyards. The public has a right to know who was responsible for the poisoning of their water, soil and air. It’s shocking to find out that a lot of newspapers still don’t cover environmental dilemmas in their community. A lot of companies fund the local newspaper through advertisements and may cause the story to not see the light of day.

However, Fallon is not easily persuaded to abandon his journalistic integrity. He serves the community the facts without holding back any details. In The Record and on, Fallon recently reported, “Test results compiled by the federal government in the past three years show 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen, in Fair Lawn, Garfield, Pompton Lakes and several other towns that rely heavily on wells. It has also been found in almost 80 other water systems in every part of the state, from Shore towns to Highlands communities.”

Fallon enjoys bringing awareness of local health risks caused by not properly disposing of chemicals. He made sure to include the company’s names who contaminated the local water supply. “The water comes from the Westmoreland Well Field, one of the region’s oldest Superfund sites. It is contaminated with solvents from Eastman Kodak, Fisher Scientific and Sandvik Inc. that leached into the water supply.”

Hopefully the rise of more environmental reporters will keep companies in check to appropriately arrange the disposal of their toxic waste and to prevent industrial side effects that cause pollution.


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