Véronique LaCapra

Science Reporter

Science reporter Véronique LaCapra first caught the radio bug writing commentaries for NPR affiliate WAMU in Washington, D.C. After producing her first audio documentaries at the Duke Center for Documentary Studies in N.C., she was hooked! She has done ecological research in the Brazilian Pantanal; regulated pesticides for the Environmental Protection Agency in Arlington, Va.; been a freelance writer and volunteer in South Africa; and contributed radio features to the Voice of America in Washington, D.C. She earned a Ph.D. in ecosystem ecology from the University of California in Santa Barbara, and a B.A. in environmental policy and biology from Cornell. LaCapra grew up in Cambridge, Mass., and in her mother’s home town of Auxerre, France.

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Coal Ash
2:21 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

First-Ever National Coal Ash Regs Disappoint Missouri Environmentalists

In Dec. 2008, the failure of a dike at TVA's coal-fired power plant near Kingston, Tenn., released 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash into the Emory and Clinch rivers and buried about 300 acres of land.
Credit Tennessee Valley Authority

For the first time, the byproducts of coal-fired power plants will now be subject to federal regulation.

In a state like Missouri, which generates more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal, the new standards could have significant repercussions.

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West Lake Landfill
7:31 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Radium In Groundwater At West Lake Landfill Exceeds Federal Standard

This figure from the USGS West Lake Landfill groundwater report shows levels of radium in groundwater wells under and around the landfill. Red, orange, and yellow dots show radium contamination above the federal safe drinking water standard.
Credit U.S. Geological Survey

Updated 12/18/14:

Groundwater under the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton is contaminated with unhealthy levels of radium.

That’s according to a U.S. Geological Survey report, released on Wednesday by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

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Callaway - Nuclear Power
4:21 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Missouri Environmental Group Moves To Block Relicensing Of State's Only Nuclear Power Plant

Ameren's Callaway Nuclear Reactor is the only commercial nuclear power plant in Missouri.
Credit Missouri Coalition for the Environment

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment has filed a petition to intervene with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to try to keep the NRC from relicensing Ameren's Callaway Nuclear Power Plant.

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Industrial Pollution
7:18 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

New Health Survey Fails To Dispel Concerns About Industrial Contamination In North St. Louis County

The "plume" of TCE-contaminated groundwater in Elmwood Park is shown in light blue in the top left of this map.
Credit U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

After years of concern, residents of Elmwood Park aren't any closer to knowing if they are being harmed by chemical vapors.

In the late 1980s, the industrial chemical trichloroethylene, or TCE, was first detected in groundwater under the North St. Louis County neighborhood. The contamination came from spills at the nearby Missouri Metals Shaping Company.

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Climate Change
5:12 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Time's Up! Comment Period Closes On EPA's Proposal to Limit Power Plant Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Missouri currently gets more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants like Ameren's Labadie power plant, pictured here.
Credit Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Time has run out for the public to comment on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

The issue has been highly contentious.

By late November, the EPA had already received more than 1.6 million comments on its proposed rule. [Update: The final tally on comments? 1,913,566.]

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Astronomy
11:15 pm
Sun November 2, 2014

Check Out This Telescope — Literally — From A St. Louis-Area Library

Twelve-year-old Ben Gremaud gets a preview of one of the telescopes at the St. Louis County Library's main branch, with the help of the St. Louis Astronomical Society's Don Ficken.
Véronique LaCapra|St. Louis Public Radio

Starting Nov. 10, you’ll be able to check out something a little unusual from some St. Louis-area public libraries: a telescope.

The program is a collaboration between the St. Louis Astronomical Society and public libraries in the city of St. Louis,  Kirkwood, University City and St. Louis County.

Anyone who is at least 18 years old and has a valid public library card and state I.D. will be able to check out a telescope for free for one week.

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Nuclear Waste
9:15 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Missouri Environmental Group Sues Over Long-Term Risks Of Nuclear Waste

Ameren's Callaway Nuclear Reactor is the only commercial nuclear power plant in Missouri.
Credit Missouri Coalition for the Environment

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment is one of several groups filing suit against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to try to get the agency to address the long-term storage of nuclear waste.

That suit follows similar cases filed by the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Prairie Island Indian Community in Minnesota.

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Cognitive Neuroscience
10:03 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

This Is Your Brain...At The Movies

Jeffrey Zacks' forthcoming book, "Flicker: Your Brain on Movies," explores how our experience watching film co-opts the mechanisms our brains evolved for understanding the real world.
Credit Oxford University Press

Movies can sometimes feel very real, bringing up emotions and even physical reactions as we watch them.

Washington University cognitive neuroscientist Jeffrey Zacks studies how the brain processes visual imagery, including what we see on film.

According to Zacks, movies hijack the parts of our brains that trigger our emotional responses and overstimulate them.

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Clean Water Act
6:44 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

EPA Approves Missouri's New Water Quality Standards, But Do They Go Far Enough?

The Current and Jacks Fork Rivers in the Missouri Ozarks are among the most pristine in the state. The U.S. EPA has recommended that Missouri designate waters with particularly diverse or rare aquatic species as "exceptional aquatic habitat," which would provide them with a higher level of protection.
Credit National Parks Service

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on a major overhaul of Missouri's water quality standards.

The state approved the new regulations in November but needed federal approval to start enforcing them.

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Pesticides
5:34 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Monsanto To Keep Selling Pesticide-Coated Seeds EPA Says Don't Help Yields ― And May Harm Bees

This blueberry bee, photographed at the Missouri Botanical Garden on Mar. 25, 2012, was the first recorded in Saint Louis since the 1930s.
Credit Ed Spevak|Saint Louis Zoo

Monsanto will continue selling soybean seeds coated with pesticides that have been linked to honey bee deaths, even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found the seeds do not improve yields.

The seeds in question are treated with a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids, which are chemically similar to nicotine.

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