Magazine article Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The IRE Journal

Coastal Areas

Magazine article Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The IRE Journal

Coastal Areas

Article excerpt

Resources abound for checking out pollution, rebuilding efforts, wetlands

In recent weeks, local and national journalists have done an outstanding job of covering one of the deadliest natural disasters this country has ever seen. But as commendable as that coverage was, there are more stories to be told about storms such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Throughout the year, investigative journalists can serve as watchdogs by looking into a host of factors that contribute to or amplify natural disasters. Investigations into the effects of pollution on coastal areas, rebuilding efforts, and the disappearance of wetlands and barrier islands are just a few possibilities.

Broad, long-term inquiries and shorter term, more localized questions provide journalists with a host of reporting possibilities. Those who know what and whom to ask will be better prepared to tell tomorrow's stories today, just as Mark Schleifstein and John McQuaid did with "Washing Away." the Tunes-Picayune story that predicted the New Orleans disaster years before it happened.

The following resources are intended as points of entry for those interested in investigating the science of coastlines.

Post-disaster pollution

* The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences" Web page offers an extensive collection of resources for covering post-Katrina environmental problems. Resource categories include chemical emergency response management, chemical pollutants, biological pollutants and basic safety information for the general public. Visit wwwapps.niehs.nih.gov/Katrina/resources.

* The Environmental Protection Agency offers a Web page with a list of resources including EPA response activities, protecting human health. New Orleans environmental and habitability assessment, and water issues at www.epa.gov/katrina.

* Some states have Water Resources Research Institutes that provide information about post-hurricane water pollution issues. The programs can be accessed at http://water.usgs.gov/wrri. State water pollution associations also can be traced through the national Water Environment Federation at www.e-wef.org.

Rebuilding coastlines

* The American Planning Association's Katrina response page, at www.planning.org/katrina, has links to Web resources and post-Katrina news coverage. In addition. APA offers training sessions for the press and the public, and provides educational materials year-round regarding development issues.

* Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Web site, www.ferc.gov/ industrics/hydropower/safety.asp, catalogues reports of hydroelectric dam inspections. Since these dams are highly susceptible to storm damage, the reports offer information for coastal safety before and after a hurricane. FERC also plays a key role in inspecting natural gas pipelines.

* The U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Pipeline Safety provides relevant records and statistics at http://ops. …

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