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Top MuckReads: Poisoned Backyards, Picturing PTSD, and Regulators on the Run

The best accountability journalism of the past week.

Here are this week's top must-read stories from #MuckReads, ProPublica's ongoing collection of the best watchdog journalism. Anyone can contribute by tweeting a link to a story and just including the hashtag #MuckReads or by sending an email to [email protected]. The best submissions are selected by ProPublica's editors and reporters and then featured on our site and @ProPublica.

Ghost Factories: Poison in the Ground, USA Today
Long-gone lead factories left residue in the ground, putting hundreds of neighborhoods at risk. In this interactive, multimedia investigation, USA Today shows that though the Environmental Protection Agency was warned about dangerous lead levels about a decade ago, the government did little to investigate or clean up the problems, or warn residents. The EPA has said it will look into the results of this investigation.
Contributed by @MichaelGrabell

Derivatives Lobby Has U.S. Regulators on the Run, Bloomberg
In an effort to control regulation, the derivatives industry has launched a multipronged lobbying and legal attack that’s had a “chilling effect” on the regulatory agencies. “The derivatives industry,” writes Roger Lowenstein, “is squeezing Washington like a python.”

Sex Offender Listing Intended to Protect the Public Is Riddled With Errors, The Indianapolis Star
According to Indiana's sex offender registry, a convicted rapist lives on the 1300 block of Indianapolis' Burdsal Parkway. In reality, it's a day care. Accurate information feels like a prerequisite for useful sex offender listings, but Indiana's is riddled with errors.
Contributed via @starwatchtim

Few Answers in Abuse Probes at Homes for Disabled, KQED, California Watch
Reports of patient abuse at California's state-run developmental centers jumped 40 percent between 2008 and 2010, but advocates say adequate investigations — even into deaths — haven't followed. One physician who worked at a state developmental center for 10 years even believes the administration removed incriminating injury photos from patients' files.
Contributed by @charlesornstein

Convicted Defendants Left Uninformed of Forensic Flaws Found by Justice Dept., The Washington Post
A nine-year internal review by the Department of Justice found many cases of flawed forensic work that may have led to wrongful convictions, but the government didn't tell convicted defendants about the problems. The Justice Department says it fulfilled its legal obligations by informing the prosecutors in the affected cases, and weren't required to tell defendants.
Contributed by @iDiplomacy

Photos: Welcome Home, The Story of Scott Ostrom, The Denver Post
Craig F. Walker’s haunting photo essay chronicles an Iraq vet's struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. The photos, which just won a Pulitzer, were originally published in January.

Getting Plowed, Maisonneuve
A great read on the rampant bid-rigging, violence and sabotage in an unlikely place: Montreal's snow-plowing business. Quebec's construction companies are notorious for rigging contracts, and it costs the province about a third more than it would otherwise pay.

These stories and many more can be found at ProPublica. You can also subscribe to a daily #MuckReads email or follow ProPublica on Twitter. Reader submissions are key to making #MuckReads a success — please contribute!

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