Dirty Little Secrets: Center for Cooperative Media Coordinates Inquiry into NJ's Toxic Legacy

Logo designed by Nicole Park, Montclair State Graphic Design student

Hidden toxins -- not the obvious Superfund sites, but toxic threats all around us. That's the subject of Dirty Little Secrets, a collaborative reporting project coordinated by the Center for Cooperative Media here at Montclair State, along with the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco.

The project, which is ongoing, launched in early December, with stories by WNYC, WHYY, NJTV and NJ Spotlight. According to a recent feature from Amy Gahran at Knight Digital Media Center, there's no end date for Dirty Little Secrets.

WNYC's data team created a searchable, interactive map showing all the known toxic sites in New Jersey, and reporter Sarah Gonzalez found that while 89 percent of New Jerseyans live within one mile of a contaminated site, poorer communities are disproportionately affected.

NJTV's Brenda Flanagan reported on the hidden liabilities of home underground oil tanks -- including some nightmare scenarios where the cost of cleaning up oil-contaminated soil is more than the value of the house itself. She also looked into why there are so many abandoned gas stations around the state.

And Scott Gurian of NJ Spotlight found that industrial sites along New Jersey's coastline are vulnerable to storm surges.

The Dirty Little Secrets project was supported by a grant from the Dodge Foundation. The Center for Cooperative Media is part of the School of Communication and Media.