Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Anyone who thinks Americans don't care about environmental poisons have another think coming. Check out this news article in today's Indianapolis Register:

The Orrin Hatch Nuclear Power Plant lies on a rocky, arid plain ten miles from Turgid Gulch, Wyoming. It was built atop an abandoned toxic landfill which was formerly the property of Greener Than Green Corporation, manufacturer of ecologically sensitive automatic weapons.        
There are no structures within sight of this nuclear facility except for a solitary single-family home exactly one thousand yards away, hugging the far corner of the landfill.
The home is that of Evan Ricketts, his wife Maryjane, and their four children. Ricketts, a thin, balding, wrinkled, fretful, peeling, twitching man who had been the landfill's caretaker, worries about his sparse neighborhood.
“I’ve started to think this might not be a healthy place to live,” he says. “The air’s thick and pink, like cotton candy. You can’t take a breath but for coughing up this yellow stuff with rusty flecks in it. We get bad smells in the house, like to gag a maggot. Gas bubbles rattle the floorboards, and you can feel the foundation grind around at night. We used to be able to drink the water even though we had trouble keeping it down, but then it got too sticky to flow through the pipes. Now we haul in water from Turgid Gulch.”
One wonders why they haven’t moved away.
Maryjane Ricketts chuckles ruefully at the question, coughs into an oily rag, and answers, “We put the house up for sale, but no one would come look at it, not even realtors after the last one’s car sunk through the driveway. When the air's a little clearer you can still see part of the bumper. So we’re stuck, I guess.”
As if the toxic soup upon which their home floats weren’t enough, the Ricketts were affected last year by what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission called a “minor malfunction” at the Hatch nuclear plant. Technicians later admitted that a few of them were “horsing around,” as they put it, and accidentally released several million gallons of radioactive water deep into the landfill. This loss of coolant caused an entire wall of the plant to melt away. Although this was the wall that faced the Ricketts' home, the NRC determined that radioactive contamination was limited to a radius of exactly nine hundred yards, a hundred short of the Ricketts’. Following natural underground contours, the wall's molten concrete cooked the Ricketts’ septic tank in seconds and vaporized their toilet.
“Hoo-eee, that was a close call,” concedes Evan Ricketts, “but to tell you the truth, we've all felt a little puny since then. Can’t quite put my finger on it. Little things, like my bleeding gums and these lumps in my neck. The wife, she miscarries every month or so. The school nurse tells us the kids are about half the size they ought to be, but I can’t tell because I can’t see so good anymore.”
The Ricketts’ problems baffled their family physician, who finally called in the Wyoming Health Department. Its studies concluded that no pollution standards were exceeded and no laws had been broken.        
Despite increasing attention to their situation, things did not go well for the Ricketts. “Got laid off,” mutters Evan Ricketts, “and I can’t get work now ‘cause I’m too well known. They call me ‘Hot Rocks Ricketts,’ and when I go for job interviews they make me just slip my papers in under the door. Can’t get on the welfare because we own our own home. We don’t know what we’re gonna do.”
Documents relating to the Ricketts’ dilemma meandered through the nation’s capital until they reached the legendarily incorruptible Government Accountability Office. A full-scale GAO investigation turned up vast amounts of information that had been suppressed, and its final report led to indictments of the current operators of the power plant, the CEO of Greener Than Green, the Director of the Wyoming State Health Department, and the Ricketts’ personal physician.
All were charged with income tax evasion.
As for the Ricketts, their friends and neighbors haven’t let them down. This past month, a thousand local residents staged a help-a-thon, “Hands Across Turgid Gulch,” in which they raised enough money to buy the Ricketts a new trash compactor.
Thanks, Indianapolis Register. News like that renews my faith in humanity.

1 comment:

  1. Not only America. I should say every country should take proper care of this hazard as this is the major problem in health seriousness.