DDT’s Tragic Legacy Part 2


DDT Ad KidThe following is the text for my semi-weekly radio program for Red Sky Stage Radio, which airs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:45, 12:45, 5:45, and 8:45.

Jeff Lange for Red Sky Stage Radio’s…Planet Michigan…music provided by the great Kevin MacLeod…right to the subject…a continuation from Tuesday…DDT’s Tragic Legacy……the reason the EPA is spending half a billion dollars of our money to clean up the DDT left behind in the yards and fields around St Louis, Michigan is because most industries are simply irresponsible…if left up to them…plain and simple…when left to their own devices, most industries won’t spend a dime more than they have to to operate…I know, I run a company, too…so we have to make them…so, what the EPA is doing there…and has been for decades…is to dig up the top 6 inches to several feet of contaminated soil and replace it with clean dirt…why?..because Robins and other birds that feed on grubs and worms are still dying after 40 years……see, the soil is still so contaminated…even after 40 years of water filtering through it…that the grubs and worms these birds are eating are killing them…residents report watching birds drop, convulse, and die…specialists called in to test the dead birds report up to 552 parts per million of DDT present in the birds’ brains…Is this a lot?…well, when 30 parts per million has been known to cause death in birds…I’d say “Yes”……and the reason taxpayers are left to pay this is because weak politicians are too cowardly to make laws that hold industries accountable…they say products will be more expensive…more than half a billion?…plus all the health side effects that go with it?…plus when the economy suffers because towns like St. Louis are stigmatized as condemned, or unsafe to live in?…or when people avoid Michigan-made products because they can’t trust them…deserved or not?……


And this isn’t all of the story…no, there’s a flip side to the Velsicol tragedy…they made another family of chemicals at this same plant called PBBs, which was used in household items to make them more flame retardant…in fact they made a whole bunch of stuff…such as supplements to livestock feed…vitamins for cows, pretty much…yes, this horror story is leading exactly where you think it is…but, you know what?…instead of my description of what followed next, I’m going to read the account updated recently by the Mich Dept of Comm Health of this 1973 incident:  I quote, “PBBs are man-made chemicals that were used as fire retardants in plastics that were used in a variety of consumer products. PBB is a relatively stable substance that is insoluble in water but highly soluble in fat.”…Continuing to read from the MDCH…”In early 1973, both PBB (sold under the trade name FireMaster) and magnesium oxide (a cattle feed supplement sold under the trade name NutriMaster) were produced at the same St. Louis, Michigan plant by the Michigan Chemical Company, or Velsicol.”…and here’s why I stressed on Tuesday, just why this was an entirely avoidable mistake…” A shortage of preprinted paper bag containers led to 10 to 20 fifty-pound bags of PBB accidentally being sent to Michigan Farm Bureau Services in place of NutriMaster. This accident was not recognized until long after the bags had been shipped to feed mills and used in the production of feed for dairy cattle. By the time the mix-up was discovered in April 1974, PBB had entered the food chain” (remember I said PBBs are highly fat-soluble)…reading again… “through milk and other dairy products, beef products, and contaminated swine,sheep, chickens and eggs. As a result of this incident, over 500 contaminated Michigan farms were quarantined, and approximately 30,000 cattle, 4,500 swine, 1,500 sheep, and 1.5 million chickens were destroyed, along with over 800 tons of animal feed, 18,000 pounds of cheese, 2,500 pounds of butter, 5 million eggs, and 34,000 pounds of dried milk products.


Manufacture of PBBs was discontinued in the United States in 1976.” end quote……even though the plane closed…Michigan farm products were not trusted for a long time…and our economy suffered for years after…and this is what stupid politicians don’t understand…or won’t admit…that a strong stance on the environment and tough regulation of industry is vital for healthy economic growth……our state rep, Frank Foster, who just lost his primary to Lee Chatfield…bragged of eliminating hundreds of government regulations to pander to the anti-government bunch…Lee Chatfield won because Foster was too moderate and too regulatory in his thinking (among primary voters, anyway)………I’m going to be saying more on this…and I may not always play nice…because, for health, environmental, and yes…economic reasons…we can’t risk letting industry operate unregulated…for the sake of the industries themselves…for ours…and for the natural resources upon which our descendents will depend…to see links of videos and stories related to this issue, plus personal accounts from St. Louis residents living right in the heart of the mess, please visit Plant Michigan anytime…for Red Sky Stage Radio…this continues to be…Jeff Lange…see you next time.


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