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.

Walmart removes 'KKK boots' from online store

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Walmart has removed a listing from its online store after learning that a pair of men’s boots displayed the letters “KKK” on them.

According to a Walmart spokesperson, the “tactical military hiking boots” in question were listed by a third-party seller and removed on January 7, shortly after the Bentonville-based retailer became aware of them. A spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group, contacted Walmart’s corporate offices to “respectfully ask that they be removed” after receiving a tip about the shoes by email.

A Walmart spokesperson provided the following statement when asked to comment on the situation:

This item was listed by an outside third-party seller and removed because the item is inconsistent with our values and violates Walmart’s prohibited product policy. Like other major retailers, we operate an online marketplace that allows third-party sellers to offer merchandise to customers through our eCommerce platform. We have a process in place designed to prevent third party sellers from offering inappropriate items on our platform.

Still, at times, inappropriate items make their way onto our platform. We are reviewing how this happened and will apply what we learn to further improve our rules and processes to prevent the sale of inappropriate merchandise.

Walmart spokesperson, January 9

Walmart has a “Prohibited Products Policy” for marketplace sellers that provides an overview of products and categories that cannot be listed there. The boots are no longer available on the Walmart website.

“We thank Walmart for dropping an online listing for oddly/poorly named ‘KKK’ boots after we brought this to their attention,” CAIR said in a press release. 

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. 

Bill designating Butterfield Trail a National Historic Trail headed to President Biden's desk to be signed into law

WASHINGTON (KNWA/KFTA) — A bill designating the Butterfield Overland Trail as a National Historic Trail has passed both houses of Congress and is headed to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The route was used to transport mail and passengers between Memphis, St. Louis and San Francisco from 1858-1861 and spanned over 3,500 miles. An interactive map showing the trail’s route through Arkansas is available here.

Sen. John Boozman supported the legislative efforts and amended the original bill to “specifically preclude any potential effect on energy development, production or transmission as a result of the trail designation,” according to a media release.

This is a long-overdue recognition for the Butterfield Trail. Designating it as a National Historic Trail will preserve the story of westward expansion and Arkansas’s significant role in the growth and development of our country. This is the result of the vision of Arkansans passionate and determined to achieve this designation. I’m proud to champion this initiative and get it across the finish line,

Sen. John Boozman

The National Park Service conducted a study in 2018, determining that the trail met the requirements for recognition. Four segments of the Butterfield Trail in Arkansas have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The bill passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent on December 20, 2022 and passed by voice vote in the House on December 22, 2022. It was presented to President Biden on December 28, 2022.

Sen. Boozman was sworn in and began his third term representing Arkansas in the Senate on January 3.

Four States 2022 Year in Review

KSNF/KODE—2022 will run out tomorrow. It’s been a busy year for the Four States – everything from legalized betting and marijuana to deaths that rocked the region.

The legal landscape saw some big changes in the Four States in 2022… starting with marijuana. In Missouri, voters approved the move from medical marijuana only to recreational use starting at age 21.

“Right now the state is doing about 35 million a month through all the 190 dispensaries that are open right now but they expect that to two and a half times that. So they believe that will generate 84 million a month,” said Tom Bommarito, Greenlight Dispensary.

Missouri was also one of the first states to take action after the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade. It triggered a statewide ban against abortions unless there is a medical emergency.

Sports betting was a big change across state lines in Kansas. The legislature passed the measure in the spring and it took effect in September.

“The next time we go to the Super Bowl or hopefully the World Series we can be in a position that people will be able to bet on things going on here in Kansas,” said Sen. Rob Olson, (R) Olathe.


Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, jail reform took center stage. House Bill 4369 changes the rules for parole for certain inmates, factoring in the type of crime and time served. It’s estimated 3,600 inmates will be eligible for release under the changes.

And a former member of the legal community found himself on the other side of the law. Former Ottawa County prosecutor Daniel Thomas Giraldi was charged with bribery of a public official, interstate travel in aid of racketeering, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and use of a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking.

Then on Halloween, a Joplin double murder led to a standoff in Newton County.

“Had a handgun, kept us at bay for a couple hours. While negotiations went on, the Joplin Police Department was talking to him over the telephone about the case. Went as long as individual thought he could go and at that point, the individual shot himself,” said Newton Co. Sheriff Chris Jennings.

34-year-old David Rush of Wyandotte had two days earlier killed Stacy Rush of Joplin and Eric Stampfli of Grove at a home on the 2200 block of South Annie Baxter.

Another high-profile crime involves the deadly kidnapping of a pregnant Arkansas woman. Amber and Jamie Waterman, both of Pineville, are charged in the case that left both Ashley Bush and her baby dead.

“Suspect fled the area, a pursuit ensued,” said JPD Assistant Chief Brian Lewis.

And finally, 2022 is a year the Joplin Police Department will never forget, leaving not just one but two officers deceased in a deadly shooting. Corporal Ben Cooper and Officer Jake Reed passed away after a disturbance call near 4th and Range Line. Officer Rick Hirshey was injured but survived.

Capt. Will Davis fired the shots that ended the pursuit near 9th and Connecticut.

Crawford County inmate escapee captured in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA (KNWA/KFTA) — A man serving a ten-year sentence on theft and weapons charges escaped from the Crawford County Jail in Van Buren on November 30 and was captured and arrested in Oklahoma on Dec. 24.

A post from Crawford County Sheriff’s Office states that Jeromy Call, 38, is being detained in LeFlore County Sheriff’s Office. This is the second time he has escaped custody. He escaped from LeFlore on Oct. 29, 2021.

Call had escaped from Crawford County Jail around 2:30 a.m. through a duct vent. The U.S. Marshals were leading the search on Dec. 8.

Tales of buried treasure in the Ozarks

Inside the Old Spanish Treasure Cave in Sulphur Springs, Arkansas. (Image Courtesy: Michele Skalicky)

This story was originally published in an online radio broadcast by Michele Skalicky with KSMU, Ozarks Public Radio. You’ll can read or listen to the full publication, HERE.

SULPHUR SPRINGS, Ark. (KSNF/KODE) — Stories of buried treasure in the Ozarks have intrigued people for decades. Brooks Blevins, Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University in Springfield, said the tales go all the way back at least to the first French explorers in the Greater Mississippi region and the eastern part of the Ozarks in the early 1700’s, and they likely got most of their stories from Spanish legends before that. Blevins said those explorers came upon stories of silver mines. According to Blevins, there are even reports that some of the lead samples they sent back to France were laced with silver.

“What happens is, by the time American settlers start to pour into the Ozarks in the very late 1700’s and early 1800’s, these legends are already circulating of the lost and buried silver and gold and all that kind of stuff,” said Blevins.

Blevins has written several pages of notes on these buried treasure stories in the Ozarks. One such story comes from the Old Spanish Treasure Cave in Sulphur Springs, Arkansas, along the Missouri/Arkansas border. Paul and Tracy Linscott have owned the cave for more than 22 years. Paul Linscott has personally found part of a sword blade and a belt, and he’s heard stories of people finding gold coins, pieces of armor, weapons and a bracelet.

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A few years ago during a severe drought, Linscott and his wife, Tracy, were able to access a part of the cave that’s usually underwater.

“We went down to one of the springs, and we found some symbols that were carved in the wall. Now, one of the symbols looked kind of like a candy cane and then on the right hand side of it looked like a little eyeball and then above the eyeball there was some squiggly lines. Now, of course, we interpreted that as ‘turn around and look underneath the water.’ Of course, we weren’t standing in the water, so I looked where that eye was pointing and what we saw was a little space between a floor and the wall. Now, of course, we got down there, and we were looking in that space, we found a little room with a long pool of water.”

He said they immediately started digging down to open up the entrance, and they found old wood encased in clay. But they didn’t get the entrance large enough to access what was behind it before it started raining. The water immediately started to rise and the area quickly flooded.  They’re waiting for the next drought to continue digging. 

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But Linscott won’t mind if he never finds the treasure. He didn’t buy the cave, he said, because of the buried treasure story it came with.

“We love the cave, and that’s why we bought the cavern. I didn’t believe any of this treasure stuff, and it wasn’t until we found a few artifacts and started digging up and looking at some of the history to try and authenticate some of that, and then that’s when we believed that the treasure hunt is a real thing here,” he said.

The Linscotts love to show people their cave. They host movie nights inside one of the cave’s large rooms, they have a “camp in the cavern” program for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Venture Crews, they host school groups for tours and, for a fee, and they offer seasonal cave tours to the public.

This story was originally published in an online radio broadcast by Michele Skalicky with KSMU, Ozarks Public Radio. You’ll can read or listen to the full publication, HERE. You can also read about more treasure stories in the Ozarks on the Springfield-Greene County Library District’s website, HERE.

Christmas can be a hazardous time for pets

KSNF/KODE — If you have a pet, you’re likely to include them in your Christmas gift giving, but this time of the year can quickly turn into a “not-so-merry” one for animals. A recent survey of over 1,000 U.S. pet owners found that a large number of Americans not only give their pets Christmas presents, but additionally prepare them holiday meals and include them in holiday activities such as scenic drives to enjoy neighborhood light displays. 

However, not all holiday treats and traditions are safe for pets. An analysis of Google Trends data for the past five years shows that Google searches for ‘ER vet’ typically see a peak in the U.S. during the week of Thanksgiving as well as the last two weeks of December.

The Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org, a pet parent resource and data information website, analyzed data from Google Trends for the search term ‘ER vet.’ The team focused on data specifically for the period of time beginning on December 15th, 2020 and ending on January 2nd, 2021. Based on an analysis of five years’ worth of data, this time frame traditionally shows peaks in U.S. searches for the specified search term.

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U.S. Searches for ‘ER Vet’ between December 15, 2020 – January 2, 2021. (Image courtesy of Google Trends — Captured 12-07-21)

Google searches for ‘ER vet’ were most popular in the state of Colorado, where searches were five times more popular than in California and Texas. Missouri Ranks number 5 for the most emergency vet searches during the holidays.

Google searches for an emergency vet traditionally see an increase from the middle of December onward to the end of the month and through New Year’s Day. As families decorate their homes for the holiday season and prepare meals for special gatherings, companion animals are exposed to more dangers than usual. 

Below are some of the most common holiday pet hazards families should be aware of:

Christmas Trees

Christmas trees often attract the attention of dogs and cats alike. However, if a tree is not securely anchored, it can potentially fall onto and injure an animal. Tree water also poses a danger, as bacteria is known to grow and thrive in sitting water, which may cause gastrointestinal upset in an animal if ingested, as can any added Christmas tree fertilizer. 

After securing a Christmas tree, pet owners should block the tree off with a playpen, baby gate, or other barrier to keep pets safe while additionally covering the tree stand with aluminum foil to discourage pets from drinking from it.

Mistletoe, Holly, and Other Seasonal Plants

The ASPCA receives over a quarter of a million cases of potential animal poisonings per year. Plants are the eighth-most reported pet toxin and account for 40% of all calls. Seasonal plants such as mistletoe, holly, lilies, azaleas, evergreens, and poinsettias are all toxic to animals. Ingestion of such plants can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases, even cardiovascular issues. Cats in particular are especially vulnerable to lilies, which can cause kidney failure if ingested. 

Anti-Freeze and Ice Melt

Ethylene glycol, an ingredient commonly found in anti-freeze, is deadly to animals. Pet owners should opt for a brand that omits this ingredient and labels itself as ‘non-toxic.’ 

As for rock salt, this commonly used ice melt is an irritant to paw pads. If an animal licks irritated paws as a result of walking on rock salt, ingesting the chemical can cause vomiting. Ice melts with a propylene glycol base are a safer alternative for households with animals.

Lights and Batteries

Electrical cords, such as those attached to wired holiday lights, can be an especially dangerous hazard to animals. If chewed on, such cords may result in an electric shock that can be potentially lethal to a pet. 

Pet owners should always hang tree lights on high branches while also protecting electrical cords with cord covers or double-sided tape and additionally keeping cords out of sight where possible. Pet owners should also keep batteries out of a pet’s reach, both those that operate holiday décor and those included in new Christmas gifts. Batteries may contain zinc, which can cause pancreatitis in an animal if ingested.

Ornaments and Tinsel

Ornaments are another danger to pets. Shards of broken ornaments can cut a pet’s mouth and tear into the animal’s digestive tract. Pet owners should always hang breakable ornaments out of a pet’s reach or opt for pet-safe, non-toxic, and non-edible ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree.  

Cats are especially drawn to tinsel and other types of ribbons, but if ingested, these items can cause an obstruction in a cat‘s digestive tract, which can lead to vomiting and severe dehydration. In many cases, surgery may be the only means of removing the obstruction. 

Food and Alcohol 

While it may seem harmless to share human food with a pet, foods are one of many pet toxins popularly reported to the ASPCA, making up more than 20% of all poison-related calls. 

Chocolate and other foods containing xylitol (baked goods, peanut butter, candy, and pudding among them) are dangerous to pets. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause liver failure and even death in dogs and cats. 

Additionally, hard candy like candy canes, are a choking hazard to animals, as are turkey and chicken bones. If such bones splinter when ingested, they may also cause tears in an animal’s digestive tract. 

Raw dough also poses a risk. If ingested, raw dough can expand inside an animal’s digestive tract and cause severe bloating, making it difficult for an animal to breathe. If the raw dough contains yeast, this may also cause a pet’s blood alcohol level to rise, which may lead to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol intoxication in animals can result in vomiting, disorientation, and seizures. If left untreated, it can ultimately lead to organ failure. As little as just a few ounces of alcohol can result in a pet’s death in just 12-24 hours. In addition to alcoholic beverages, alcohol can also be found in some syrups, eggnog, and holiday breads.

Many pet owners may remain unaware of the potential holiday-related hazards in their household which pose a risk to the health and wellbeing of their pets. Given the increase in Google searches for emergency veterinarians during the holiday season, the issue is one that requires increased awareness. With proper education, families can keep their companion animals safe while still including them in holiday traditions.

Missouri utility company asks customers to conserve

(Image Courtesy: Getty Images)

MISSOURI (KSNF/KODE) — Spire is encouraging customers to conserve energy.

Spire representatives say the forecasted weather is impacting supply pressures serving the region.

As a precaution, the company is asking customers to conserve energy where possible.

Spire is also asking commercial and industrial customers to reduce their gas usage at facilities to minimum levels necessary to protect buildings and inventory.

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The company is also asking customers to turn thermostats down to 68 to 65 degrees, turn off their thermostats if they’re traveling, and limit use of natural gas fireplaces and hot water heating.

Newborn baby girl killed by family dog in Cave Springs

CAVE SPRINGS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Cave Springs police are investigating after a newborn baby was killed by a dog.

“On Wednesday, December 14, my office was notified by the Cave Springs Police Department that they were investigating the death of a 4-day-old baby girl. Based on the statements of witnesses and the opinions of medical professionals, it was determined that the fatal injuries were inflicted on the child by the family dog.”

Nathan Smith, Benton County prosecuting attorney

Cave Springs Police Lt. Keith Lawson said that the incident occurred at approximately 12:20 p.m. The child was taken to Children’s Hospital in Springdale and then flown to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, but later died from her injuries. The dog has been euthanized.

Smith added that the investigation is ongoing, but he does not anticipate that it will end with any criminal charges being filed. The name of the family involved has not been released.

This story will be updated if more details become available.