Toxic Water at Pine River in Michigan

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[Abuse] [Pine River Correctional Facility] [Michigan]
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Toxic Water at Pine River in Michigan

I know the water here is severely polluted here from the big PBB (fire retardant) scare back in the day, when some knucklehead mixed it into feed. The state, in another brilliant knee-jerk reaction, had all the PBB-tainted cattle slaughtered and buried here in St. Louis right next to the river. So naturally all the local water is toxic. Plus, a nearby abandoned chemical plant, formerly owned by Velsicol Chemical Co, is leaking chemicals into the ground water and river from rusting barrels, vats and unmarked buried areas on the 52-acre grounds.

This plant is one of the country's largest Superfund clean up sites, known as the Pine River Superfund clean up, and the EPA has already spent $51 million removing and hauling away sediment from the river bottom and running the water through a high tech treatment plant. Estimates in 2004 were for $100 million to finish the job but the Superfund is out of money and the containment, known as non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) is still oozing into the river and they don't know the exact source. They say this NAPL is composed of 82% DDT, and a host of other toxic chemicals including chlorobenzene, a known carcinogen. (See Greg Nelson, "Pine River cleanup funds secure for now," and "Task force seeks origin of 'cocktail,'" The Saginaw News, c. 2004; and Brad Heath, "Delayed toxic cleanup puts public at risk," The Detroit News, 8/9/2004, p1A&7A.)

All the staff claim they drink the water and there is no longer a problem but you'll never actually see them drink the water. We, however, have no choice. I'll probably arrange to have a sample smuggled out and tested like I did in '94. Yep, that one was toxic. Horrifying yet not surprising at all.

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