17% of people live near toxic release facilities—here's how it breaks down in the Four States

17% of people live near toxic release facilities—here’s how it breaks down by state.

The Supreme Court on June 30 reduced the capability of the EPA to regulate carbon emissions of state power plants in its ruling on West Virginia vs. EPA. Beyond the ruling’s impact on U.S. climate goals, it will also have ramifications for the people who live near power plants. Electricity generation is the second largest contributor to carbon emissions in the U.S., and exposure to pollutants from power plants heightens the risk of respiratory and cardiac health conditions.

Corporate sites across the U.S. are releasing toxins into the surrounding land, air, and water—with many people living in affected communities unaware of the damage being caused. After an accidental release from a chemical plant in West Virginia chemical plant in 1985, Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The act established the EPA Toxic Release Inventory, which provides citizens with crucial information on what toxins are being emitted in their areas and which companies are doing the emitting. The TRI has allowed certain states to put emission-curbing legislation in place to safeguard public health, such as when Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker passed legislation in 2019 allocating $2.4 billion to climate change resilience.

The EPA’s TRI program currently recognizes 770 chemicals; any site that manufactures or uses these chemicals at above-average levels qualifies for listing in the TRI. Chemicals described by the TRI as “toxic” are known to cause cancer or other negative health issues, as well as adverse effects on the environment. Facilities report the amounts of chemicals they release annually to the TRI, with the “release” of a chemical meaning it is “emitted to the air or water, or placed in some type of land disposal.”

The facilities in the TRI are usually quite large and deal in electricity, metals, mining, chemicals, or hazardous waste. However, not all toxic chemicals used by corporations are listed in the TRI, meaning its inventory of toxin-emitting sites is not exhaustive.

Stacker analyzed data from the EPA Toxic Release Inventory and the U.S. Census Bureau’s five-year American Community Survey to identify the percent of each state’s population living in census tracts with toxic release sites, as well as the corporations and facilities responsible for emitting the highest amounts of toxins annually. These results reflect the last full year of data, 2020, from the 2020 National Analysis Dataset released in October 2021.

Read on to discover where the most toxins are being released in the Four States, what part of your environment they may be polluting, and who is being affected.

4. Oklahoma

  • Population living near toxic release sites: 20.3%
    — 18.3% of state’s white population
    — 21.0% of state’s Hispanic population
    — 18.4% of state’s Black population
    — 22.4% of state’s Native American population
    — 15.0% of state’s Asian population
    — 15.8% of state’s Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population
  • Total number of sites: 362

Oklahoma’s biggest toxin-emitting site is a paper manufacturer: the International Paper facility released 5.9 million pounds of pollutants, mainly into the air, in 2020. Of the chemicals emitted into the atmosphere in Oklahoma in 2020, 50% was ammonia, 29% methanol, and 5% toluene.

3. Missouri

  • Population living near toxic release sites: 21.7%
    — 21.9% of state’s white population
    — 24.1% of state’s Hispanic population
    — 15.3% of state’s Black population
    — 28.2% of state’s Native American population
    — 14.4% of state’s Asian population
    — 24.3% of state’s Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population
  • Total number of sites: 507

Combination mine-and-mills comprised four of five of Missouri’s top toxin-emitting sites in 2020. The biggest offenders were facilities in Buick (over 11 million pounds), Brushy Creek (over 6.7 million pounds), Sweetwater (about 3.8 million pounds), and Fletcher (about 3.2 million pounds). The vast majority of toxins were released into the land.

2. Kansas

  • Population living near toxic release sites: 25.0%
    — 23.4% of state’s white population
    — 24.6% of state’s Hispanic population
    — 15.8% of state’s Black population
    — 28.5% of state’s Native American population
    — 15.4% of state’s Asian population
    — 31.4% of state’s Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population
  • Total number of sites: 322

Of the 15.9 million pounds of toxins released on-site in 2020 in Kansas, 10 million pounds went into the air, 1.3 million pounds into the water, and 4.5 million pounds into the land. PQ Corporation was responsible for 5 million pounds, the most in the state. Second was Koch Fertilizer Dodge City, which released over 3 million pounds.

1. Arkansas

  • Population living near toxic release sites: 27.1%
    — 24.0% of state’s white population
    — 41.7% of state’s Hispanic population
    — 27.4% of state’s Black population
    — 30.3% of state’s Native American population
    — 25.1% of state’s Asian population
    — 69.3% of state’s Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population
  • Total number of sites: 341

Arkansas’ 2020 toxin amounts were primarily due to three paper distributors. Evergreen Packaging released over 2.7 million pounds that year; Clean Harbors El Dorado LLC, over 2.2 million pounds; and Domtar’s Ashdown mill, with 2.1 million pounds.

Comet to pass by Earth for first time in 50,000 years

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

KSNF/KODE — A green comet discovered last March will make its closest approach to Earth this month. The comet “C/2022 E3 (ZTF)” was first discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at California’s Zwicky Transient Facility. 

When it was first found, it was already inside the orbit of Jupiter. Since then, it has brightened substantially and is sweeping across the northern constellation, Corona Borealis in the predawn skies, according to NASA.

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The agency notes that it is still too dim to see without a telescope — though an image from December reveals its bright coma, short broad dust tail, and faint ion tail. The comet will soon be at perihelion, (its closest pass by the Sun) on January 12th and at the closest to Earth on February 1st. 

NASA notes that the brightness of comets is unpredictable, but by then, comet “C/2022 E3 (ZTF)” could become only just visible to the eye in the night skies. The key for those wishing to see the comet then, will need to find a dark location to observe from. Those who live in the Northern Hemisphere will find the comet in the morning sky, as it moves swiftly toward the northwest during January.

Current projections suggest looking for two well known constellations to pinpoint the comet’s location. Between January 12th and February 1st, look for the comet to appear just south of the Big Dipper, and north of the Little Dipper.

According to NASA, the comet has a full orbit of around 50,000 years, meaning that the last time it came close to Earth was when Neanderthals roamed the planet.

KS Gov. appoints Tod Michael Davis of Iola to 31st Judicial District Judgeship

TOPEKA — Governor Laura Kelly today appointed Tod Michael Davis of Iola, Kansas, to a judgeship position in the 31st Judicial District. Davis currently serves as a Magistrate Judge for the 31st District.  

Davis is a member of the Kansas Bar Association, Allen County Bar Association, and the Neosho County Bar Association.

“I am honored and thankful that Governor Kelly selected me for this tremendous opportunity,” Davis said“I am committed to serving the citizens of the 31st Judicial District with integrity, fairness and respect, and to continue the high standards that our past and current Judges exemplify.” 

District Court Judges in the 31st Judicial District are appointed by the governor and selected from nominees chosen by a district nominating commission. Judges in nominating commission districts are subject to retention elections every four years.

The other nominees selected by the district nominating commission were Thomas P. Mikulka and Dennis Depew.

Convicted kidnapper killed in his prison cell

LANSING, Kans. — A man convicted of aggravated kidnapping in Neosho County in 2005 is dead after investigators say he was attacked and strangled in his prison cell.

Gary Raburn, KDOC

Guards found Gary Raburn, 62, unresponsive in his cell at Lansing Correctional Facility, Friday night after his 25-year-old cellmate summoned them. Officials say they attempted life-saving measures, but Raburn died. Prison officials said it appeared Raburn was attacked and strangled.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is charged with investigating suspicious deaths within the Kansas prison system. Investigators with the KBI say they have a suspect but are awaiting autopsy results before filing charges.

Raburn was released from prison in 2013 after serving eight years for an aggravated kidnapping charge. Prosecutors originally charged Raburn in June 2004 with rape, aggravated kidnapping, and assault on a law enforcement officer. He was convicted and sentenced in October 2005.

Raburn was sent back to prison several times and absconded from authorities in 2019. You can read his criminal history by searching the Kansas Department of Corrections website, here.

Girl Scout Cookies go on sale today

JOPLIN, Mo. — Hungry for Girl Scout cookies?

This year’s Girl Scout Cookie Season kicks off today, January 6th.

The new cookie this year is the Raspberry Rally cookie.  The thin, crispy cookie is a “sister” cookie to the favorite Thin Mints.  The cookie is infused with raspberry flavor instead of mint and dipped in the same delicious chocolaty coating.

This new cookie will be the first in the Girl Scout Cookie lineup to be exclusively offered for online sales and direct shipment only. 

Selling cookies embraces the understanding of the world of business, money management, and entrepreneurship, said Lauren Slamb, Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland spokeswoman.

Every package is filled with leadership and life lessons, she said.

Girl Scout Cookies were originally home-baked by girl members with moms volunteering as technical advisers, according to the national Girl Scouts website. The sale of cookies to finance troop activities began as early as 1917. The Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee baked cookies and sold them in its high school cafeteria as a service project.

According to the national Girl Scouts website the best-selling Girl Scout Cookies are: 

  1. Thin Mints® 
  2. Caramel deLites®/Samoas®
  3. Peanut Butter Patties®/Tagalongs®
  4. Adventurefuls™
  5. Do-si-dos®/Peanut Butter Sandwich

How to Purchase Girl Scout Cookies This Year 

If you know a registered Girl Scout, reach out to her to find out how she’s selling cookies in ways that meet local and state safety protocols. 

You can also text COOKIES to 59618 to be among the first to receive information about Girl Scout Cookies.

Beginning February 17, enter your zip code into the Girl Scout Cookie Finder at www.girlscoutcookies.org to find a booth near you, to purchase cookies from a local Girl Scout troop for delivery, or to donate cookies to local causes. 

Kansas man captured for rape of a minor after barricading himself, refusing officers

CHERRYVALE, Kans. — Law enforcement agencies attempted to serve a warrant for felony rape of a minor and criminal threat to a residence in Kansas that led to the subject barricading himself, refusing to come out.

Montogomery County detectives and the Kansas Bureau of Investigations arrive at the residence to serve the warrant on Niklas Nelson. Upon arrival, officers made contact with Nelson’s father and gathered intel that Nelson was hiding inside a large metal shop on the property, in the second level/roof area.

Personnel also learned that Nelson possibly had a handgun in his possession. This prompted officers to surround the building and start an armed and barricaded procedure.

May be an image of 1 person and standing
Niklas Nelson

A search warrant was obtained for the property and the Montgomery County Emergency Response Team (SERT) was called to the scene. Kansas Highway Patrol also responded with a helicopter.

According to the Montgomery Sheriff’s Office, the SERT team was able to take Nelson into custody with the use of less lethal chemicals and less lethal tools.

Nelson was transported to the Montgomery County Department of Corrections where he was booked for the warrant for rape, interference with law enforcement, and possession of methamphetamine.

The case has been submitted to the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office for proper charging. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

New Year's resolution: Start clearing your phone's cache

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

KSNF/KODE — A smartphone is an amazing little device, letting you fit a flashlight, camera and computer in your pocket. It gives you access to the entire worldwide web on the go, letting you browse through page after page of information online at high speeds.

But even the latest iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models might start to feel sluggish over time. One of the simplest New Year’s resolutions you can make is to start clearing your iPhone cache every month. If you’re not quite sure what cached data is, let’s take a quick look.

What Is Cached Data?

With every app opened or website visited, comes a flood of information. The user gets to enjoy content in exchange for location info, which device they’re using, which browser they’re using, time spent on pages, and other user behaviors.

Then there’s cached data.

Laptops, tablets, smartphones — it doesn’t matter. All our devices have some level of reserved space to store this type of data for quick access.

The technique of storing cache data or cache files as history on a phone or web browser to improve the user experience on future visits to a website or an app is known as “caching.”

Is Cached Data Important?

Cached data isn’t inherently important, as it’s only considered “temporary storage.” However, it does exist to improve the user experience.

On-page elements like images, videos, and even text take some time to load. When this data is cached, we can reopen the app or revisit the page with confidence that it won’t take anywhere near as much time.

Cache memory also saves states. For example, if you close your Twitter app and reopen it 10 minutes later, you’ll be able to scroll down and see posts that were previously loaded. Without cache, everything would need to reload. You can specifically remove the cache on certain websites but leave others in place, which can be particularly useful if you are managing multiple sites.

Should I Clear My Cache?

The short answer is ‘yes.’ If you find your mobile device memory being drained from cached data, you should probably clear it. After all, cached data isn’t vital to the performance of an app or website; it just means the files on it will have to be reloaded.

Although, constantly clearing your cache isn’t a permanent solution since you’ll eventually be reopening apps and revisiting websites at some point. The data will be re-cached, and the cycle will continue.

If you’re that strapped for memory, consider deleting old text messages, images, or video files on your device. It’s also worth looking into cloud-based file storage and sharing software like Google Drive or Dropbox if you want to hold on to your files. These options typically offer a free amount of cloud space.

How To Clear Cached Data

  • You’ll find easy instructions for clearing cached data on an iPhone, HERE.
  • If you’re phone runs on Android, you’ll find an easy “how-to” guide for clearing cache, HERE.

What to expect in 2023 when it comes to gas prices

A man fills up his truck with gas at Casey’s General Store, located at 7th Street and Schifferdecker Avenue in Joplin, Missouri.

KSNF/KODE — In 2022, consumers saw record-high gas prices thanks to refineries being shut down by COVID, drivers getting back on the road, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

After all the commotion in gas prices last year, what can drivers expect in 2023?

According to GasBuddy’s 2023 Fuel Outlook that was released today (1/6), the yearly national average price of gas in 2023 is forecast to drop nearly 50 cents per gallon from that of 2022, to $3.49.

Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, told KMOX News Radio in St. Louis that prices should start falling in the early, colder months of the year.

“Americans don’t drive as much in January and February. But we tend to see prices start going up in late February, early March, that’s when we start to transition to more expensive summer gasoline,” said DeHann.

That’s also when Americans typically “come out of their hibernation,” he explained, increasing the demand for gasoline.

“And then we see a decline again in the fall as we do every year. And people are going to say, ‘oh, it’s an election.’ Well, demand goes down in the fall. That’s what we saw this (last) year as well. And so that’s kind of the yearly chart of prices, they go up in the spring, they fall in the fall,” said DeHann.

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DeHaan added that since oil refineries are also subject  to the elements, they can be affected by subzero temperatures — things like steam production and frozen valves can cause prices to shoot up.

But, one thing that doesn’t affect gas prices, DeHaan said, is politics.

“Everyone likes to think the president is all-powerful and controls everything. But this is a global commodity. This is not just something that the US is producing and consuming ourselves as a global market. Hundreds of countries consume oil and the president has very little control over what’s happening in oil producing countries and oil consuming countries.”

3 children kidnapped near Wichita school, 1 arrest

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Police say a man kidnapped three children in two separate incidents near Clark Elementary School in the past 24 hours. Police say the children are safe, and an alleged suspect is in custody.

Around 3:50 Wednesday afternoon, a girl in her early teens reported she had been kidnapped by a man driving a blue vehicle in the 6600 block of E Boston, near Boston Park. She said the man tried to sexually assault her in the car, then let her go. The girl told a family member, and the police were called.

Just before 9 a.m. Thursday, two elementary students, a boy and a girl, left their home on foot on South Drury. A man in a blue vehicle kidnapped them. A short time later, he dropped off the boy but kept the girl. When he got to school, they called 911.

“A young student a male student showed up at school, rather frantic, and reported to administrators at school that his sister and he had gotten into a vehicle, and that she was not dropped off,” USD 259 Director of Safety and Environmental Services Terri Moses said.

Police say the girl was found safe a short time later.

Police officers patrolled the area and found a vehicle similar to the description near Harry and Woodlawn. It turned into a foot pursuit of a suspect. Police say they arrested him without further incident in the 6600 block of East Boston.

Neighbors say it’s scary something like this happened near them.

“I moved over here because I thought it was pretty safe, school right across the street,” Heaven White said.

Janna Palmer is spreading the word.

“Making sure that all of the neighbors know the situation, so we can all be more aware,” Palmer said.

Moses encourages parents to have conversations with their children about what to do if you feel uncomfortable or are in a similar situation.

“When we talk to children, we want to talk about behavior not just strangers, and the fact that somebody driving down the road, it would be unusual and inappropriate for somebody you don’t know to offer you a ride.”

Police say the alleged suspect is a 21-year-old man. They are still investigating, but they believe he is responsible for the kidnappings. They are also looking into whether he has any previous arrests or convictions.

During a news conference Thursday morning, police were asked about the condition of the children.

“This kind of situation is going to be extremely traumatizing,” Officer Chad Ditch, WPD spokesperson, said. “The children are physically safe.”

Ditch would not say what charges the man could face. He said that would depend on what is learned during the continuing investigation.

Watch the full news conference below:


KSN News reached out to Wichita Public Schools for a response. WPS spokesperson Susan Arensman said the children told school officials as soon as they got to school and police took over from there.

Romance novelist fakes suicide, returns to Facebook

Books written by author, Susan Meachen (Photo courtesy: Getty Images).

KSNF/KODE — A romance novelist has been accused of faking her own suicide after posting that she was alive two years after a social media status from her account announced her death, USA Today reported. Susan Meachen sparked a furious reaction from other self-published writers after announcing she was alive and had simply needed a break from social media. 

“I debated on how to do this a million times and still not sure if it’s right or not. I am in a good place now and I am hoping to write again. Let the fun begin,” the Tennessee-based author said before the controversy enraged the world of independent novelists.

The writer of titles such as His Wicked Way and Chance Encounter said, “But my family did what they thought was best for me and I can’t fault them for it. I almost died again at my own hand and they had to go through all that hell again.”

Her Facebook page became a shrine to the scribe after it was used to announce her death in October 2020.  A post on the page blamed her suicide on harassment and bullying from other members of the book community.

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USA Today reported that the page was later used to give away audiobook codes of her novels, raise funds for charities, and to source editors for her unpublished work. In 2021, a Facebook post by someone claiming to be Mrs. Meachen’s daughter said her mother’s books would be “unpublished” unless sales increased. 

Love to Last a Lifetime, the tale of a man born to riches who falls for his best friend’s girlfriend, was published and put on sale shortly after her “death,” said Rolling Stone Magazine.