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Before the mid-20th century, the most exciting thing to happen in Toms River, N.J., was the American Revolution. Before the war, the coastal village’s inlet was a popular haven for small-time pirates. But the arrival of the chemical industry ushered in a decades-long drama, culminating in one of the largest legal settlements in the history of toxic dumping. Toms River became home to a cluster of childhood cancers linked to local air and water pollution. Journalist Dan Fagin spent five years uncovering an account of rampant pollution and inadequate oversight. He says the town’s story is a cautionary tale for fast-growing industrial towns from South Jersey to China. For this month’s Environmental Outlook, Diane and Fagin discuss the story of Toms River.
Excerpt from "Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation" by Dan Fagin. Copyright 2013 by Dan Fagin. Reprinted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.