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Is 3 + 2 > 100,000?

August 29th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

[Update: 8/30/08 – I just checked the DEP webpage to see if they had gotten around to issuing a press release on the PWTA Report. Not yet, but I did find that DEP made it a priority to issue a “good news” release about lifting the Delaware shellfish ban, but not “bad news” about drinking water wells. See:http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2008/08_0043.htm
I am continuously amazed at how environmentally related public health risks are reported (or ignored) by media.
The problems have become acute, as media downsizes. It seems as if environmental and science reporters are a luxury newspapers can’t afford.
That is bad news for readers and democracy, because government is becoming more and more secretive and non-transparent. Academics refer to this as “agency capture” – a phenomenon where government officials are literally closer to and pay more attention to regulated industry than the public they are supposed to be protecting.
As I’ve argued, that lack of media scrutiny undermines accountability and allows powerful special interests to have their way behind the scenes with DEP environmental regulators. The public interest is sold out in smoky back rooms and stale bureaucracies.
In the latest example, apparently three (3) plus two (2) is greater than 100,000 – at least to Star Ledger news editors.
Let me explain:
Today, the Ledger reports that 3 people were poisoned by eating wild mushrooms. See:
Three people are poisoned by wild mushrooms
Today, in a followup story, the Star Ledger also reports that DEP lifted the ban on harvesting Delaware Bay shellfish. That ban was imposed one month after 2 people were sickened by eating oysters. See:
DEP lifts ban on shellfish harvesting
Yet, the Star ledger did not report that the drinking water at over 50,000 NJ homes is unsafe. Assuming, conservatively, that there are 2 people per household, that means more than 100,000 NJ residents are being poisoned every day.
That story was prominently reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer. See::
N.J. finds many private wells contaminated
The Morris Daily Record. See:
Contaminants found in 300 Morris wells
NJ study finds 1 in 8 private wells contaminated


The Asbury Park Press. See:
State: 1 in 8 private wells contaminated
Officials urge more testing
The story has gained national attention also. See:
Radioactivity, Arsenic Contaminate New Jersey Drinking Water
I can’t understand how that can happen, when I broke the story and released the DEP Report right here at NJ Voices on Wednesday, with this post:
Drink at your own risk
Posted by Bill Wolfe August 27, 2008 1:21PM
I followed that NJ Voices post up with a widely distributed press release yesterday:
WIDESPREAD CONTAMINATION FOUND IN NEW JERSEY DRINKING WATER — Survey of Wells Is Far From Well; State Does Not Follow-Up on Pollutants
Oh well….. better luck next time.

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