WHO'S POISONING AMERICA by Ronald Brownstein


Corporate Polluters And Their Victims In The Chemical Age
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Most of us will be familiar, at least in general terms, with the incidents detailed in this nine-part collection of reports, but the cumulative effect is still tragic and horrifying. We begin with a pollution overview: the rampant growth of the chemical industry, the increasing incidence of cancer and occupational disease, nuclear wastes, pesticides, fouled air and groundwater, oozing dumpsites, bureaucratic bungling, corporate hostility and neglect. Seven thoroughly documented case histories--by local people--follow: Michigan Chemical's fire retardant, PBB, mistakenly mixed with animal feed; kepone (a DDT-like pesticide), which poisoned Allied Chemical's own workers and the entire James River; West Valley's defunct and now festering nuclear waste reprocessing plant and dump, whose ownership was foisted upon N.Y. State; General Electric's discharge into the Hudson River of PCBs (chemical cousins of PBB), whose ill-effects were known back in 1936; Reserve Mining's dumping of pulverized rock containing asbestos-like fibers into Lake Superior; the herbicide 2,4,5-D and its lethal contaminant, dioxin, blithely sprayed by the military in Vietnam and the Forestry Service in the Pacific Northwest; and Hooker's infamous Love Canal. Nader himself winds up, outlining feasible preventative measures from integrated pest management schemes to "criminal penalties for corporate criminals." What emerges past the ineptitude and indifference at all levels of responsibility is the disturbing fact that most of these disasters could and should have been prevented, and that workers whose livelihood depends on chemicals, even hazardous ones, can't be expected to complain ("kepone trucking"). Carefully detailed, quietly implacable; a useful and chilling summary.
Pub Date: June 17th, 1981
ISBN: 0871562766
Page count: 369pp
Publisher: Sierra Club/Counterpoint
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1981


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