TOMS RIVER: A Story of Science and Salvation
By Mel Fabrikant Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 12:48 PM EDT
One of New Jersey’s seemingly innumerable quiet seaside towns, Toms River became the unlikely setting for a decades-long drama that culminated in 2001 with one of the largest legal settlements in the annals of toxic dumping. A town that would rather have been known for its Little League World Series champions ended up making history for an entirely different reason: a notorious cluster of childhood cancers scientifically linked to local air and water pollution. For years, large chemical companies had been using Toms River as their private dumping ground, burying tens of thousands of leaky drums in open pits and discharging billions of gallons of acid-laced wastewater into the town’s namesake river.
During the early 2000s Toms River, NJ was the center of national attention as the epicenter of a childhood cancer cluster. The cluster resulted in one of the largest settlements ever in an industrial pollution case and became the ultimate tale of one small community banding together to seek justice and retribution.
TOMS RIVER: A Story of Science and Salvation (Bantam Books, on sale tomorrow, March 19th) chronicles the story of Toms River, highlighting the everyday heroes who brought a global corporation to justice. Melding investigative reporting, a scientific detective story, and the contributions of more than 200 personal interviews, TOMS RIVER is a sweeping narrative that leaves no stone unturned.
Dan’s New York Times op-ed on the topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/opinion/a-cycle-of-contamination-and-cancer-that-wont-end.html
“A crisp, hard-nosed probe into corporate arrogance and the power of public resistance makes this environmental caper essential reading.”
“TOMS RIVER unravels the careless environmental practices that damaged a community… features jaw-dropping accounts of senseless waste-disposal practices set against the inspiring saga of the families who stood up to the enormous Toms River chemical plant. The fate of the town, we learn, revolves around the science that cost its residents so much.”
“An award winning science journalist exposes how corporate interests and corrupt politicians almost turned a quiet, suburban New Jersey beach community into a toxic wasteland….A gripping environmental thriller.”
—Kirkus, starred review
Dan Fagin is an associate professor of journalism and the director of the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University. At Newsday, Fagin’s stories about cancer and the environment were awarded both of the leading science journalism prizes in the United States, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Association of Science Writers. He has twice been a lead member of reporting teams that were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.
About TOMS RIVER:
In an astonishing feat of investigative reporting, prize-winning journalist Dan Fagin recounts the sixty-year saga of rampant pollution and inadequate oversight that made Toms River a cautionary example for fast-growing industrial towns from South Jersey to South China. He tells the stories of the pioneering scientists and physicians who first identified pollutants as a cause of cancer, and brings to life the everyday heroes in Toms River who struggled for justice: a young boy whose cherubic smile belied the fast-growing tumors that had decimated his body from birth; a nurse who fought to bring the alarming incidence of childhood cancers to the attention of authorities who didn’t want to listen; and a mother whose love for her stricken child transformed her into a tenacious advocate for change.
A gripping human drama rooted in a centuries-old scientific quest, Toms River is a tale of dumpers at midnight and deceptions in broad daylight, of corporate avarice and government neglect, and of a few brave individuals who refused to keep silent until the truth was exposed.