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http://www.nearingzero.net (nz158.jpg). I traditionally take Physics 8 to the cave as a lab. I also invite Physics 6. It’s fun!. I’ll pay for it!.

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I traditionally take Physics 8 to the cave as a lab. I also invite Physics 6. It’s fun!

I’ll pay for it!

Last tour of the day starts at 4:00. Tentatively scheduled for 4:00 Friday, April 23. I may need to change to April 30 if we have a large group. A typical driver can get to the cave from Physics in 35 minutes, if traffic is light.

Who wants to go to the cave? Want to bring a sibling/friend/spouse?


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Physics 6 Schedule invite Physics 6. It’s fun!

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.”—Anonymous


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Your Talks invite Physics 6. It’s fun!

April 28 (10 Students)

Kelsey Hansen

Lisa Hassler

Andrew Lott

Alexandra McCormick

Melony Meier

Sara Mitchell

Ally Nissen

Elizabeth Rusinko

Suzanne Simpson

Christina Wilson

April 26 (4 students)

Darryl Coleman

Frank Keehn & David Saunders

Courtney Pitts

The class period is 75 minutes (4:00-5:15). You are allotted 10 minutes if presenting alone, 15 minutes if two are presenting, 20 minutes if three are presenting. If talks end early, I will lecture.


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Your Talks invite Physics 6. It’s fun!

May 5 (5 students)

Jazmine Bell

D Naya Mims

Drew Skyles

Josh Smith

May 3 (5 students)

Sarah Grant

Amanda McBee

Fareedah Washington

Danielle Warchol

Debra Wielms

Not scheduled, or I am not sure what you want to do: Hadeel Bogary, Mykal Cain, Zach Humphrey, Kayla Richardson

The class period is 75 minutes (4:00-5:15). You are allotted 10 minutes if presenting alone, 15 minutes if two are presenting, 20 minutes if three are presenting. If talks end early, I will lecture.


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Grading Your Talks invite Physics 6. It’s fun!

Tentative grading sheet:

environment-related topic (0-3)

scientific evidence presented (0-5)

effort by presenter to evaluate evidence (0-4)

talk organized and flowed logically (0-5)

evidence of thought on part of presenter (0-5)

good effort and enthusiasm (0-3)

total (0-25)


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Times Beach, Missouri invite Physics 6. It’s fun!

Any comments on the video?

Guess where I went a few years ago?

Meramec River

ex-Times Beach

remember the protesters along the highway?

If I were glowing green when I returned, what would you do?


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Agent Orange invite Physics 6. It’s fun!

Agent Orange was one of a number of herbicides sprayed on the Vietnam jungles.

Dioxin is one of the man-made byproducts of Agent Orange manufacture, and cannot be removed.

Other dioxin sources listed a couple of slides from now.


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Dioxin invite Physics 6. It’s fun!

One of the most toxic compounds known to man?

Dioxins:

TCDD (dioxin) furan pcb

There are several hundred compounds in the dioxin “family.” Perhaps 10-15% of them have dioxin-like toxicity.

Dioxins don’t decompose readily. They “live” for a long time. Remember the food chain.


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Sources of dioxin invite Physics 6. It’s fun!:


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Times Beach dioxin (from Verona, MO?): Agent Orange, facial cleanser production (hexachlorophene).


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Update, 2010 cleanser production (hexachlorophene).:


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Dioxin: one of the most toxic compounds known to guinea pigs.

One millionth of a gram can kill a guinea pig.

The video suggested dioxin killed horses and birds (“birds falling out of the sky”) and impaired squirrel jumping ability.


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Detailed information on effects of dioxin is available from the EPA. See their September 2000 draft documents. Maybe too much information for the “average” person. 2004 update.

Dioxins affects different species in different ways. Some (guinea pigs) are extremely sensitive. Others not so sensitive. Humans seem to fall in the middle or the sensitivity range. Different people seem to have different sensitivities.

According to the FDA, people exposed to dioxin suffer chloracne (really nasty), skin rashes, excessive body hair, possibly liver damage, and increased cancer risk.

Long-term exposures to low levels of dioxin, or short-term exposures during “sensitive” times, might result in “reproductive or developmental defects.”


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  • Diseases the the VA has acknowledged are “associated with” (but not necessarily caused by) Agent Orange exposure:

  •  chloracne (a skin disorder)

  •  porphyria cutanea tarda

  •  acute or subacute peripheral neuropathy (a nerve disorder)

  •  type 2 diabetes

  •  numerous cancers:

    • non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, Hodgkin’s disease, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, and respiratory cancers (including cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus)

  •  chronic lymphocytic leukemia being added to list

  •  also perhaps spinal bifida and other birth defects

This list is telling, because it is where the government puts its money where its mouth is.


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How could we learn about the effects of dioxin exposure on humans?

  • Run a big experiment, and expose volunteers to varying amounts of dioxin?

It will always be possible to claim that there is no proof that dioxin is harmful to humans.


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In my opinion, dioxin is not good stuff for humans, but not the most toxic (to humans) chemical. Do you think the people of Times Beach overreacted to the presence of dioxin?

 Would you mind if someone paved the roads of Route 66 State Park with asphalt that contained dioxin?

 Would you mind if someone paved some Rolla streets with asphalt that contained dioxin?

 Would you mind if someone paved the street in front of your house with asphalt that contained dioxin?

 Would you eat a clump of dirt laced with parts per thousand of dioxins?

 Would it concern you if there were streets within 10 or 15 miles of Rolla that were contaminated with dioxin?

 How would you feel if men in moon suits showed up one morning and started digging in your yard?


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Times Beach, Missouri the most toxic (to humans) chemical. Do you think the people of Times Beach overreacted to the presence of dioxin?

You can read the town history here, or read an article by the last mayor of Times Beach here. One of America’s legends.

Times Beach was founded in 1925 as a result of a newspaper promotion (subscribe to our paper, get a great deal on a vacation lot). The newspaper is now defunct.

Times Beach started out as a summer resort, but turned into a low-income community during the Great Depression.

It was a lower middle-class city of about 2200 when it died.

According to Marilyn Leistner, “on December 23, 1982, the residents received what we now call our Christmas message. ‘If you are in town it is advisable for you to leave and if you are out of town do not go back.’ ”


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Russell Bliss the most toxic (to humans) chemical. Do you think the people of Times Beach overreacted to the presence of dioxin?

Russell Bliss, “the Johnny Appleseed of Dioxin” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), not to be confused with the 50 or so other Russell Blisses in the US, was a breeder of show horses.

He also had a business hauling waste oil. He found that one spraying of oil kept dust down for as long as 6 months. See here.*

Naturally, he spread the good word. In 1971 he sprayed dioxin-containing oil on Shenandoah Stables, owned by Judy Piatt. You saw the results.

*A student term paper from an industrial chemistry class. Lots of interesting information. I wish he had cited sources. Not available any more.


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Bliss told the Piatts the oil was just engine oil, but after the entire family (including children) had to be hospitalized, and horses kept getting sick months later, Piatt started “tailing” Bliss, noting where he got oil and where he sprayed.

8 years after the Piatt Stables spraying, the EPA finally had to get involved when a former employee of NEPACCO (more later) told them about buried drums containing 1 part dioxin per 500 parts oil. (The safe level was then calculated by the EPA to be 1 part dioxin per 1,000,000,000 parts everything else.)

Your last homework assignment (#13):how many guinea pigs could you kill with a 55-gallon drum that contains 0.2% by weight of dioxin?

Just kidding, although it is an interesting question.


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It wasn’t until mid-1982 that the EPA, using Piatt’s information, started visiting Bliss’s sites. They picked Times Beach because it had the greatest concentration of people.

1971 spraying. 1982 site visits. You can’t accuse the EPA of jumping in willy-nilly, now, can you? Or perhaps it is only hindsight that makes some people wonder why something wasn’t done earlier. Keep in mind that most science problems are really very easy—once somebody has figured out how to solve them.

Anyway, men in moon suits showed up in Times Beach one day and started digging in resident’s yards.


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But this section is about Russell Bliss. information, started visiting Bliss’s sites. They picked Times Beach because it had the greatest concentration of people.

What do you think of Russell Bliss?

The St. Louis Post Dispatch calls him a “charming rogue,” with “folksy charm” and “smooth sales skills.” Here’s an interview.

Would you buy a used car from Russell Bliss?

The Post Dispatch also points out that in the waste oil business of Bliss’s time, haulers had to pay for oil that was not hazardous.

Haulers only got paid if they oil was hazardous.

Let’s see…did Bliss get paid? Whose idea was it that he get paid?


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Bliss was never convicted of wrongdoing regarding dioxin, but with all the attention focused on him, the Feds noticed some funny business in his tax returns, and he ended up spending a year in prison for tax fraud (early 1980’s).

None of what I am putting in these notes is personal first-hand information. I am trying to credit most of my sources. Most of the information is “out there” if you keep your ears open.

Now for some hearsay.

That means “the good stuff.”

When I taught this course in 2001, I had two young ladies in class who knew Bliss personally.

They said he had a used-car business somewhere near St. James. They also called him—for the whole class to hear—a *****.

They said he had a used-car business somewhere near St. James.


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Can anybody verify that for me? but with all the attention focused on him, the Feds noticed some funny business in his tax returns, and he ended up spending a year in prison for tax fraud (early 1980’s).

No, the used car bit, not that other … piece of information about him.

“I like this hearsay. Got any more?”

One of the students in my 2002 Physics 6 class (also a young lady) told me that you could drive some of the back roads the other side of St. James and come across fenced-off, locked roads with hazardous waste signs warning you away. My memory says she claimed the signs contained warnings about dioxin.

Can anybody verify that for me?

One more bit of hearsay…



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My family in the 1980s April 28, 2004.

  • Lived in Arnold, MO, 20 miles away from Times Beach

  • Owned 5 acres in a large subdivision that had gravel roads


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My family in the 1980s April 28, 2004.

  • In 1984, when the Globe-Democrat folded, we moved to Connecticut

    • High cost of living here, so tried to sell land and house in Arnold.

    • No one would buy it because they feared Times Beach could have affected Arnold too.

    • Voluntary foreclosure, and a new start


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Government action April 28, 2004.

  • Superfund act and nationwide attention

  • When my parents tried to get help from the state and national governments, they were refused.


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A Tangled Web? bank who originally foreclosed on the property.

Some of you have written that companies should be held responsible and made to pay for problems they cause.

If you think it over carefully, you might be less willing to hold company owners criminally responsible, except in the most extreme cases.

It starts, maybe, in Verona, Missouri.


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Oh, dang. I drove through Verona once when I visited a school in Monett.

(Took the scenic route.)

Am I looking a bit green these days?

Northeastern Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company (NEPACCO) in Verona, Missouri, made an antibacterial chemical. Dioxin was a byproduct. It went into contaminated tanks.


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NEPACCO partnered with Hoffman-Taft, also in Verona, which made Agent Orange, to share facilities. Dioxin from agent orange production also went into the contaminated tanks.

The contaminated byproducts were initially sent to Louisiana for incineration—which destroys the dioxin—but that was expensive.

Agent Orange and the bactericide production were halted in the early 1970’s. Shortly after (as far as I can tell), Hoffman-Taft was taken over by Syntex Agribusiness.*

Syntex contracted with their chemical supplier, Independent Petrochemical Corporation, IPC, to dispose of their waste.

*Would it make a difference to you if you knew that Syntex is a Mexican company?


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Remember from the video—IPC got a quarter from Syntex for every (gallon?) and paid Bliss a nickel to haul it away.

The real story is a bit more complicated. You can read about it here and here. (2nd link defunct 2010)

Now, here’s the question: who knew what?

A NEPACCO employee knew enough to turn whistle-blower in 1979.

Supposedly, Syntex never told IPC that their waste contained dioxin, so IPC couldn’t have alerted Bliss.

It is not clear that the above statement represents the truth.


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It has also been claimed that Bliss got waste oil, known to be dioxin contaminated, from a big company in the state, but far from Verona. In fact, Judy Piatt documented Bliss’s pickups from this company. This company did produce dioxin as a byproduct of their work. (I don’t want to name the company.)

So here’s the big question—who gets sued?

Lots of lawsuits (“thousands?”). In the end, only Syntex lost and had to pay (nothing illegal had been done).

As far as I can tell, Syntex paid $10 million. The total cost of the Times Beach incident was over $200 million. I wonder who paid the rest?

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.”


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A couple of loose ends: be dioxin contaminated, from a big company in the state, but far from Verona. In fact, Judy Piatt documented Bliss’s pickups from this company. This company did produce dioxin as a byproduct of their work.

The $1.5 million award the video mentioned was for a dioxin-related cancer death having nothing to do with Times Beach.

Vernon Houk—the CDC person with the industry connections who kept “defending” dioxin…

  • I have seen it stated that he claimed chemicals don’t harm people. I can’t verify that right now from primary sources. I have seen it stated that he led a Federal agency responsible for hundreds of junk science studies used to show various chemicals are not a risk to humans.

  • Houk died in 1994 of cancer of the larynx.

  • “The Vernon Houk Award recognizes unsurpassed leadership in preventing lead poisoning.”


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In general, accurate, trustworthy information is hard to come by.

Rumors and innuendos are abundant.


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Times Beach: the Aftermath come by.

Would you trust this person?

He says “the dioxin contamination was generally limited to the top twelve inches of soil surrounding roads, road shoulders, and drainage ditches.”

“Approximately 13,600 cubic yards of soil at concentrations above 20 ppb dioxin as well as 105,000 cubic yards of structures and debris were contaminated. No detectable levels of dioxin were found in the groundwater or surface water at the site.” (Link dead 2010; here’s an EPA link.


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An incinerator was built on the site to burn contaminated soil and building materials.

Incineration destroys the dioxin. You hope there are no power failures while incineration is taking place. Such was not the case.


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The remedial action was “demolition and onsite disposal of all structures and debris remaining at the site; excavation of dioxin contaminated soil exceeding 20 ppb and thermal treatment in a temporary on site thermal treatment unit with onsite disposal of incinerator ash…”

… and “placing of clean soil cover and revegetation over all areas with residual dioxin levels between 1 and 20 ppb.”

The incinerator burned “about 265,000 tons of contaminated soil and debris from Times Beach and 28 other sites in eastern Missouri.”

The incineration cost itself was about $110 million (of which Syntex paid $10 million).

The Superfund paid much of the cost of cleaning up Times Beach.


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According to the EPA, in 2003 there were 791 completed or in-progress Superfund projects.

Industry has contributed about 70%-80% of the Superfund money. The Superfund trust fund has gone from $3.8 billion in 1996 to a few tens of millions at the end of FY 2004.

Industry used to pay a tax to support the Superfund. That is no longer the case.

The US Chamber of Commerce position is that the states should respond to contaminated sites and there should be no reinstatement of the Superfund tax.

The majority of US voters agrees with this position.

The American Council of Engineering Companies believes cleanup of contaminated sites should be voluntary.


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Link to EPA Superfund site: in-progress Superfund projects.

http://www.epa.gov/superfund/

EPA Times Beach site:

http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/times/index.htm


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You are invited to visit in-progress Superfund projects.Route 66 State Park.

“The 419-acre park is a boon to park visitors who want to enjoy nature and see interesting historical displays showcasing Route 66. Bridgehead Inn, a 1935 roadhouse, serves as Route 66 State Park's visitor center. It houses Route 66 memorabilia and interprets the environmental success story of the former resort community of Times Beach, which once thrived on the location of the park.”

The park celebrates “The environmental success story of the former resort community of Times Beach”!


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A Neverending Story? in-progress Superfund projects.

How would you feel if men in moon suits showed up one morning and started digging in your yard?

Dioxin found in Ellisville, 1997.


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1998, McDonnell Park, near St. Ann, found contaminated by dioxin.

There are others. The links in this lecture may direct you to them.


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The Big Joke? dioxin.

Now, are you ready for the punch line to this 48-slide story?

Are you sure?

Times Beach was not …incinerated…because horses were dying, birds falling out of the sky, and squirrels missing their jumps.

It wasn’t incinerated because city workers were getting sick.

It wasn’t incinerated because residents were suffering chloracne, skin rashes, liver damage, or reproductive or developmental defects.


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Times Beach was incinerated because the dioxin levels exceeded (just barely) the EPA threshold: enough to cause 1 excess cancer per 1,000,000 population.