Do you know what's in your water?
Improper handling and storage of petroleum, hazardous substances/chemicals or liquefied natural gas (LNG) can result in spills that threaten the environment or pose health and safety risks to nearby persons. Across New York State, there have been instances of spills of petroleum or chemicals that have caused groundwater contamination including some public water supplies. Places like Flint Michigan wallow in misery because their local governments cannot limit groundwater contamination.
To help failing governments and to inform the citizenry, I created a Shiny app that visualizes all the spills that have occurred in New York State since the state began keep records. The app aims to provide both an intuitive interface for the exploration of the data and offer rigorous analytical summaries of spills, DEC responsiveness, and institutions or companies tied to the most dumping of chemicals into the commons. All of it organized by region, county, and type of material.
The interactive map encourages user exploration and investigation of chemical spills that have occurred in NY State. Each spill is drawn with a circle that grows with the logarithm of the spill size. Spills and linked facilities can be selected by the material chemical involved and stored respectively.
Spills can also be filtered by size and year of occurence. Hovering over a facility or a spill will bring up useful summary information. In addition, facilities can be grouped and toggled based on their status: closed, inactive, or active.
The analysis tab showcases a summary per DEC region, County, and Material Family of total chemical spills by volume. Significant for policymakers - the "Spill Sources" tab breaks down the total spills for the particular set of counties by source. Certain area in NY state with a lot of industrial activity will have a higher percentage of their spills coming from Industrial and Storage sources compared to a rural region - where most spills are from Vehicles or Municipal sources.
This tab shows the "Case Lag" per DEC Region and County. Case Lag is the amount of time from when a spill is reported to the DEC Regional office to the time a case is closed. Closing a case entails processing the spill, organizing a cleanup, and administration of reopening of the contaminated site. The chart below, for example, shows the mean case lag (in red) for the NYC region over a period of 30 years. Number of individual spill incidents is represented in purple. We notice a sharp peak around Sept 11, 2001 as the city bureaucracy was dealing with the physical and chemical fallout of that event.
The other chart under "Worst Offenders by Spills" lists out each set of county's worst offenders (degree of offense measured in total volume of chemical spilled).