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Mark Ruffalo touts clean water on the Cape

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In “The Avengers,” Mark Ruffalo plays a scientist who becomes a green-hued superhero known as the Hulk. In real life, Ruffalo is a mere mortal but he does sometimes find himself in the company of people wearing lab coats. Monday was such an occasion. The actor was at Cape Cod Community College with a scientist from Water Defense, an organization Ruffalo founded to promote clean and safe drinking water. He’s still making movies — he has four due to be released over the next year, including “Infinitely Polar Bear,” shot in Rhode Island — but Ruffalo has also become a clean water warrior. “In this new age of extreme energy extraction, like hydrofracking, the common denominator is water,” he told us before Monday’s event. He says mining and drilling have poisoned wells and waterways with methane, benzene, lead, and other carcinogens, and there’s little being done to protect the public and stop the contaminators. He cited the recent discovery of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol in West Virginia that led Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to issue a do-not-use order for 300,000 residents. Ruffalo said he and Water Defense scientist Scott Smith were at Cape Cod Community College because the school “gets it, they care enough to reach out to us.” (Scott is the founder of Opflex, a water-testing technology.) Ruffalo, whose credits include “The Kids Are All Right” and “Shutter Island,” acknowledged that his celebrity helps enhance the profile of his nonprofit. “Sure, I do have more chance of getting my voice heard,” he said. “That is the world we live in. But there’s a positive way to use that for justice.” With the Academy Awards on Sunday, we couldn’t resist asking Ruffalo for his Oscar favorites. “Definitely Leo,” he said, referring to his “Shutter Island” costar Leonardo Di Caprio, a best actor nominee for “The Wolf of Wall Street.” “I have a lot of friends up this year. I’d say Leo and a few others.”

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