Monday, October 24, 2011

It's Not Rocket Science.

By Duane Craig

Did you know the Kennedy Space Center is contaminated?
Even rocket scientists haven't been very astute about the handling of toxic substances, according to this report in USA Today. At the Kennedy Space Center it was routine to pour trichloroethylene onto the sandy soil under the delusion that it would simply evaporate. That was even the disposal guidelines printed on the Material Data Safety Sheets published by manufacturers in 1947.

But, as time went on it became clear something was going wrong and today at the space center there is about two square miles of chemically contaminated soil that extends up to 90 feet deep where the early space program launched rockets. There are also 126 other contaminated sites under investigation, under cleanup or being left to clean themselves.

NASA has been spending millions each year to deal with the contamination at the space center after the 1980 federal law that forced it to start looking at the hazards it was creating right here on earth. Reported as the largest is a 352-acre plume at the site where the 1967 Apollo I fire occured. These contaminated spots can take a century or more to clean using active processes and more than 300 years to break down naturally. But there is an alternative being employed to cleanup trichloroethylene at the space center that doesn't require pumping water from wells and treating it. The USA Article reports on corn oil and nano particles as alternatives being used.

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