Toxics Targeting is one of New York's best kept secrets. A firm devoted to making government data accessible to everyone, it focuses on mapping the sits of spills, leaking underground oil tanks and other environmental problems, both small and large.
The maps give residents -- and also, critically, home buyers about to invest their life savings in a property -- information they need to make wise choices, to address lingering pollution issues, and to hold government and industry to account for fouling the environment and threatening human health.
The firm's latest project is to make the most detailed maps of toxic sites in the state available on the Web. More than 270,000 potentially toxic sites are mapped, showing environmental hazards in multiple Google map views.
Toxics Targeting, a for-profit business, charges people $150 for more detailed reports about toxic spills they may see referenced in their neighborhood. The data is available from the government, but tracking it down can be a headache that many people don't have the time or patience for.
Walter Hang, the president of Toxics Targeting, has helped countless New York residents by arming them with information. The information has helped gird arguments for greater regulation of polluting industries, for the phase-out of toxic chemicals like the fuel additive mTBE, and for the stringent cleanup of known toxic sites.
Check out the maps, which show the landscape littered with toxic spills, and then ask why every state environmental agency doesn't make similar data available, in such a user-friendly form?
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