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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Gaslight Square
11:17 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Twelve St. Louisans Take Us Back To The Mid-Century Heyday Of Gaslight Square

This publicity poster showcases the wide variety of attractions on offer in Gaslight Square, from jazz clubs to fine French dining. There was even a Japanese restaurant ― a novelty in the Midwest of the 1960s.
Courtesy of the Charlie Menees Collection, UMKC.

It spanned less than three blocks at the intersection of Olive and Boyle. And it only lasted about ten years.

But the arts and entertainment district known as Gaslight Square flourished in the 1950s and '60s, making St. Louis a national destination for music and culture.

In honor of St. Louis' 250th birthday, I took a little detour off my usual science beat to explore this extraordinary time and place in our city's history.

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Coal Ash
4:54 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Labadie Residents Win One Legal Challenge Against Ameren's Coal Ash Landfill ― And File Another

Franklin County residents hold up signs to show their opposition to Ameren's landfill plans at a meeting of the county commission in 2011, just before the commission voted to change its zoning regulations to allow coal ash landfills.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7/25/14 with information on a new lawsuit.

The Labadie Environmental Organization (LEO) has filed another lawsuit in their long-running campaign to prevent Ameren from building a coal ash landfill in Franklin County.

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Health Care Workforce
11:05 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

The Number Of Health Care Workers With Low Education Levels Is Rising ― But Their Wages Aren't

In St. Louis, about a third of health care workers with less than a bachelor's degree were in households making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $44,700 for a family of four in 2011.
Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program

About half of the health care workers in the St. Louis area have less than a bachelor's degree.

The number of health care workers with lower levels of education is on the rise here but for the most part, their salaries are not.

That puts the St. Louis region in line with the national trend, according to a new report released on Thursday by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

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Affordable Care Act
12:09 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Differing Court Rulings On Obamacare Mean One Thing: Nothing Changes For Now

Will people from Missouri and Illinois who bought health insurance on the federal exchange lose their subsidies?
Credit (via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting decisions that could have major ramifications for the future of the Affordable Care Act.

The controversy hinges on whether people in the 36 states that opted NOT to set up their own health insurance exchanges can qualify for subsidies (really, tax credits) on their health insurance premiums. Missouri and Illinois are among those 36 that don't have state-run exchanges.

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NASA Space Program
2:29 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Forty-Five Years Ago, We First Landed On The Moon: Meet The Man In Charge In Mission Control

NASA flight director Eugene F. Kranz at his console in Mission Control in Houston on May 30, 1965, during a Gemini-Titan IV simulation to prepare for the four-day, 62-orbit flight.
Credit NASA

Forty-five years ago this Sunday, Apollo 11 became the first space flight to land men on the moon.

At Mission Control in Houston, Gene Kranz was the man in charge.

Kranz spent more than three decades working for the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, serving as flight director for both the Gemini and Apollo space programs.

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Bridgeton Landfill
9:09 am
Thu July 3, 2014

State Concerned About Potential For Surface Fire At Bridgeton Landfill

In this diagram of landfill infrastructure, temperature monitoring probes (TMPs), gas interceptor wells (GIWs), and gas extraction wells (GEWs) are all labeled by number.
Credit Map provided by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Updated 7/3/14 with a link to the state's finalized Incident Management Plan for the Bridgeton Landfill.

State agency officials are concerned that the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill could break through to the surface.

That scenario was raised in a recent memo by landfill fire expert Todd Thalhamer, who has been consulting for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

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Coal Ash
7:42 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Missouri Public Service Commission Gives The Go-Ahead To Ameren's Coal Ash Landfill Plans

This diagram shows the design of Ameren's proposed 167-acre coal ash landfill in Labadie.
Credit Image courtesy of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources

The Missouri Public Service Commission has signed off on Ameren Missouri's plan to build a coal ash landfill at its power plant in Franklin County.

The five member commission unanimously granted the utility company’s request for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity on Wednesday. That certificate gives Ameren the ability to expand the area of its Labadie power plant to build the new landfill.

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West Lake Landfill
1:16 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

EPA Says Radiation Screening Suggests Bridgeton Athletic Complex "Suitable For Public Use"

Diagram showing gamma radiation measurements on grassy areas at BMAC. Detections are shown in blue and green. No measurements were more than twice the mean, the level at which EPA Region 7 typically conducts further investigation.
U.S. EPA Region 7

Preliminary radiation screening at the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex (BMAC) suggests the ball fields do not pose a risk to public health.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the results on Thursday.

The athletic fields are less than a mile from the West Lake Landfill, an EPA Superfund site containing radioactive waste.

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Air Pollution - Climate Change
5:41 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

St. Louis NAACP Says Shifting From Coal To Renewables Would Benefit African Americans

St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt spoke at a rally on Wednesday organized by the Sierra Club in support of taking action to prevent climate change. Missouri State Senator Jamilah Nasheed (behind Pruitt) was also among the speakers.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

The local NAACP says air pollution from coal-fired power plants is having a disproportionate impact on the health of African Americans in the St. Louis area.

The civil rights organization joined the Sierra Club, Missouri State Senator Jamilah Nasheed and others on Wednesday to rally in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

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More Testing
7:49 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Bridgeton Landfill Owner Agrees To New Measures To Monitor Underground Fire And Control Odors

The southeast corner of the Bridgeton Landfill, showing the plastic cap intended to keep gases from escaping.
Credit Missouri Department of Natural Resources

 UPDATED 6/20/14 to correct description of radioactivity testing along waste haul routes.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has reached a new agreement with Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services.

It includes additional measures that Republic must take to monitor the movement of an underground fire at the landfill and to control the foul odors ― and potentially toxic gases ― emanating from it.

Those measures include:

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