Erica Peterson

Environment Reporter

Erica reports on environment and energy issues for WFPL, which run the gamut from stories about the region’s biodiversity to coal mine safety and pollution issues. In the name of journalism, she’s gone spelunking, tagged mussels and taste-tested bourbon. Erica moved to Louisville in June 2011 from Charleston, West Virginia, where she worked for the state’s public radio and television affiliate. Besides Kentucky and West Virginia, she’s lived in New Jersey, Minnesota and Illinois. She lives with her husband in Louisville.

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Environment
6:30 am
Wed January 16, 2013

Patients, Widows, Researchers Still Dealing With Toxic Legacy of Rubbertown Chemical

Revis Crecelius, seen here on the day he went to the hospital for surgery.
Erica Peterson WFPL

Seventy years ago, in the early days of Rubbertown, there were a lot of dirty jobs. But no job was dirtier than an entry-level post at the B.F. Goodrich plant. Workers called “poly cleaners” climbed into large vats that had held the chemical vinyl chloride to clean them. And now, decades later, some of these men—they’re all men—have developed serious liver problems. At least 26 of them have developed cancer, and all have died from it.

One of them was Janet Crecelius Johnson’s husband, Revis.

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Environment
11:50 am
Tue January 15, 2013

State Toxic Releases Continue Downward Trend

Credit Courtesy Energy and Environment Cabinet

The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection has finished analyzing data of all the toxic chemicals that were released in the state in 2011.

Since 1986, companies have been required to report the number of pounds of toxic chemicals they release into the air, into water and on land, and there’s been a definite downward trend in Kentucky as new regulations go on the books. More than 83 million pounds of toxics were disposed in Kentucky in 2011—about 13 million pounds less than in the previous year.

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Environment
11:27 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Equipment Failure Spills 95 Million Gallons of Waste and Stormwater Into Mill, Pond Creeks

Credit Metropolitan Sewer District

This weekend's rain has caused some major problems for Louisville's sewer system.

There were about three inches of rain Saturday evening and Sunday, causing overflows and backups all over Jefferson County. But the biggest problem is probably an equipment malfunction that leaked 95 million gallons of stormwater and waste into waterways.

From MSD:

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Environment
10:42 am
Mon January 14, 2013

92 Birds Killed in Kentucky's Second Sandhill Crane Hunting Season

Kentucky’s second sandhill crane hunting season is officially over. This year hunters killed 92 birds—42 more than last year.

Most of the birds killed were in Hardin and Barren counties on private land. No more than 400 birds could be hunted during the season, and the actual amount taken didn’t come even close to that. But Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Migratory Bird Specialist Rocky Pritchert says the department is counting the season as a success.

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Environment
6:30 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Lung, Colon Cancer Rates Higher Near Rubbertown Than Other Louisville Neighborhoods

Data from the Kentucky Cancer Registry. There's a significant difference in rates when the 95% confidence intervals don't overlap.
Erica Peterson WFPL

A new analysis shows that certain cancers are more prevalent in areas near the Rubbertown neighborhood in west and southwest Louisville. But it’s impossible to determine what role—if any—pollution from nearby industries plays in the elevated cancer rates.

Everyone in Rubbertown knows someone with cancer. But are people in these neighborhoods actually more likely to get cancer than other Louisville residents? I called someone who should know: Dr. Tom Tucker, the head of the Kentucky Cancer Registry.

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Environment
1:51 pm
Sun January 13, 2013

Louisvillians Rally in Support of Indigenous "Idle No More" Campaign

Courtesy of Thomas Pearce

Over the past several months, indigenous groups in Canada have been banding together to protest the alleged eroding of their tribal rights. Under the name "Idle No More," the group has been holding rallies and protests across Canada and internationally. Louisville supporters of the movement held their own flash mob in solidarity yesterday at Mid City Mall. Judging from a video posted here, they had a pretty good-sized crowd.

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Environment
6:30 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Rubbertown Odor a Nuisance, But is it Illegal? Hard to Tell

In Rubbertown, industrial and residential areas coexist.
Erica Peterson WFPL

All of the major factories in Louisville's Rubbertown area have permits that allow them to put specific amounts of certain chemicals into the air. But when residents report unpleasant smells, it’s hard to know where they’re coming from and whether a factory is violating its permit.

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Environment
4:14 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Report Suggests Problems With Placement of Mine Impoundments in WV

The federal Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation has released the results of an analysis of West Virginia coal mine impoundments which could have implications for Kentucky.

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Environment
5:07 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Comer Criticizes EPA's Role in Floyds Fork Rehabilitation

File photo

Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture is worried that a process to map pollution in the Floyds Fork watershed could end up having lasting effects on agriculture policy.

James Comer expressed his concerns about the Environmental Protection Agency on Facebook and in a statewide agriculture newsletter. Here’s what he said on Facebook:

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Environment
6:30 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Air Issues Plague Park DuValle, One of Louisville's Newest Planned Communities

In the late 1990s, Louisville spent nearly $200 million revitalizing a blighted area on the West End. Park DuValle emerged—and has since been nationally-recognized as a model mixed-income community. But one thing the city couldn't change was the neighborhood's location. And like the housing projects that stood before it, Park DuValle is next to Louisville’s industrial area. Residents say the odors in the air are often unbearable.

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