Friday, April 16, 2010

Is that smell coming from your dirty arsenic?

So, apparently America's best and brightest from about seven or eight decades ago didn't exercise any good judgment at all in the use and disposal of some really scary shit; they should have been more cautious.

There is a definite trend in how chemical and biological agents have been treated from their inception to the present, and that trend can be sized up as either complete recklessness, blissful ignorance, or malice. To know that you have been entrusted with public property that is of the highest danger to mankind, and then just bury it in the ground and quietly retire requires a little bit of all three.

Let's recap so that we have visibility:
  • In the case of Spring Valley, scientists from Ft. Detrick thought it was safe to take chemicals that were known to them to be of high lethality and bury them in shallow pits at random and not keep track of where those sites were. That, and they didn't even bother containing them in anything, they buried them in glass jars and mortar rounds and such like they had just scooped them off a table and dropped them in a hole. At least secure them in something that stays watertight for awhile, and won't break when struck with a shovel.
  • Generations of scientists at Ft. Detrick were trusted to work with the planet's most toxic biological agents, and none of them thought it was a good idea to maybe keep track of how much agent they had on hand because they were too lazy and stupid to defrost the freezers where the agents were kept. "Fuck! When the hell is that lazy janitor gonna clean up in here!?!? This fridge looks like a pig sty!" No ledgers; no restricted access to the freezers; no accountability; no simple upkeep - Fail.
  • Scientists were entrusted to work with blister agent, arsenic, and who knows what else at American University, and they thought that the best way to wrap up their work and protect their community was to bury the live bombs, mortars, and shells, as well as glass beakers full of agent, into shallow unmarked pits around the campus. It worked out great!
  • US government agents that were entrusted with chemical and biological agents thought it would be best to find out how they worked by surreptitiously dosing the US military, the American public, and foreign citizens with them. "Wow! Holy smokes is that stuff contagious! Didja see that shit! Hey, how about a beer to celebrate our hard work!"
  • Our president has opened the doors to the amount of people in the military industrial complex who have access to these things in the hopes that research will win the day; and nobody seems to have given the thought to history and how this stuff was treated in the past.
If you work in the military industrial world, I want you to stop what you are doing right now and quietly peek over your cubicle and look at the guy next to you . . . . . yes, the hungover gentleman or lady who doesn't bathe, collects cats that look like Hitler, and still plays D&D with their pet cockatoo. Now imagine that person coming in to work in the morning after a long night of arguing with their ex who's out on parole, putting on a level A protective suit and pulling a glass jar of hemorrhagic fever out of the freezer that the janitors of yore have neglected to clean out, and getting to work. Now, think of the word trust. Puts things in a different light, huh? Would you trust that person to be responsible enough to dispose of that hemorrhagic fever in a way that wouldn't effect your neighborhood? Do you think the government is a responsible enough trustee to ensure that Mrs. Level 21 Eternal Seeker properly disposes of the hemorrhagic fever, and doesn't accidentally pour it into her Star Trek thermos and take it home?

Me neither.

I thought it might be useful to catalog some of this stuff since the media seems content to just post a two paragraph article about it. There's a sexting scandal at a school right now, you know, so there's much more important things going on to waste the space. Fortunately, I have plenty.
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