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July 28, 1979 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-07-28

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Page 10-Saturday, July 28, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Ark, bayouquarantined due to


Meto, a meandering stream, rises east
of here and threads its way across 70
miles of rural land, far from any place
that might symbolize pollution or con-
The bayou's idyllic course carries it
through the rice country of the delta,
across a forested wildlife refuge, and
eventually into the Arkansas River,
which, in turn, flows to the Mississippi.
But, as country people have been
learning lately, rural America, like any
Pittsburgh or Houston, may be facing
hard questions about chemical con-
tamination: Bayou Meto has been
STATE HEALTH officials banned
fishing, wading, and swimming
because state pollution control officials
have found dioxin in sludge, fish,
mollusks, and other samples taken
from Bayou Meto.
Dioxin, a byproduct of the manufac-
ture of the herbicide 2, 4, 5-T, is a toxic
chemical suspected ofacausing or con-
tributing to birth defects, cancer, liver
damage, and other maladies.
The herbicide was one of the elemen-
ts in Agent Orange, a defoliant used by
the Air Force to denude jungles in the

Vietnam War.
VERTAC INC. of Jacksonville, ten
miles northest of Little Rock, manufac-
tured the herbicide until last April. It
stopped volunarily and is working with
state and federal pollution control of-
ficials on the dioxin problem.
The company is the successor to
three other firms that manufactured at
the site, including one that produced
Agent Orange.
About 3,000 barrels of waste from
Vertac's process were stored on the
plant property. Some were leaking
dioxin. Some barrels had been buried in
the ground nearby.
VERTAC HAS spent about $200,000 to
get the wastes in new containers and
take other anti-contamination actions.
But the discovery of dioxin at the site
provoked official interest in sampling
elsewhere to see whether dioxin had
washed into adjacent soil, or streams,
or the city's sewage system.
At first, the state quarantined only
Rockey Branch Creek, near the plant.
Then only about one-third of the bayou
was quarantined. But upon further fin-
dings, the quarantine absorbed the en-
tire bayou.
DR. ROBERT YOUNG, the state

health chief, said the discovery of
chemical contamination of fish "is con-
sidered an indication of more extensive
contamination" than previously had
been demonstrated.
Scheduling examinations for about
150 present and former employees of
Vertac, Young sought the help of a New
York team that specializes in chemical
contamination of humans.
The team, which began examining
Vertac workers this week, is led by Dr.
Irving Selikoff of the Environmental
Sciences Laboratory of the Mount Siani
School of Medicine. Dioxin is so toxic,
Selikoff said, that a spoonful would kill
10,000 baby chicks.
IT WILL BE some time before the
results of the Jacksonville tests are
fully known, Selikoff said.
But a state study already has in-
dicated that 13 of Vertac's 74 current
employees have been diagnosed as
having cloracne, a form of acne thought
to be an early symptom of exposure to
Young has called for tests on more
wildlife samples, including raccoons,
bottom-feeding fish, and predatory fish,
not only from the bayou, but also from
the Arkansas River.

sure of the level at which dioxin
becomes dangerous to human beings, it
is clear that wading, swimming, or
fishing must be discontinued" in the
bayou, Young said.
He said the safest course is to
asssume that no one should eat any fish
containing dioxin "until further study
can vertify that no potential health
hazard exists."
Lately, Vertac officials have told
Gov. Bill Clinton they need to get the
plant back into operation. The costly
cleanup increases the financial
pressure for resuming production of 2,
4, 5-T, they said.
SO FAR, CLINTON has opposed
restarting production, saying it would
be "a great mistake" until there is
evidence to eliminate doubt about
whether production, and its consequen-
ces, would be safe.
The governor said he didn't want any
worker to lose a job as a result of the
plant being idle, nor did he want the
community to lose a part of its
economic base, but that something
bigger was at stake.

GM to cut big car production, idle 10,000

DETROIT (UPI)-General Motors
Corp. (GM) said yesterday it is cutting
production of slow-selling big cars,
vans and light trucks at eight assembly
plants around the country, idling ap-
proximately 10,000 workers.
At the same time, GM said it plans to
expand production at two plants which
produce the company's hot-selling
small cars.
THE ACTION brings to more than

40,000 the number of indefinite layoffs
in the total domestic auto industry,
which has suffered through a big car
sales slump since March.
It was the first time in more than
three years GM has eliminated produc-
tion shifts at an assembly plant.
Chrysler Corp. has approximately
20,000 workers on indefinite layoff,
while the Ford Motor Co. has idled
roughly 13,000 workers. ,

GM SAID IT will discontinue second
shifts at assembly plants in St. Louis,
Mo, and in South Gate and Fremont,
both in California.
The St. Louis plant assembles the
full-sized Chevrolet; South Gate
assembles full-sized Chevrolet and
Cadillac De Villa models, while
Fremont builds the Buick Century and
Regal and the Chevrolet Malibu and
Monte Carlo.
The action is effective at the start of
the 1980-model year in late August.
ASSEMBLY LINE rates will be
reduced at the home plants of Buick

Motor Division in Flint, Mich. and the
Pontiac Motor Division in Pontiac,
Mich. on full-sized passenger cars. The
slowdowns at Buick will take effect in
With the start of the new model year,
second shift van production will be
discontinued at GMC Truck and Coach
in Pontiac, and second shift light truck
production is being eliminated at
Assembly line rates are being
reduced at the Chevrolet plant in Flint
for light trucks and the Lordstown,
Ohio, assembly plant for vans.

A nmamnT eOTNwS

aflum about

Gays protest shooting of
fim in Greenwich Village
"distorted view of gay life. We've been
NEW YORK (AP)-Homosexual so victimized by distorted stereotypes
activists have been fighting for their that we're saying 'No more."'
rights for years, but now a movie they BUT PRODUCER Jerry Weintraub,
say misrepresents gay life has them on whose film successes include "Oh,
the other end of a constitutional dilem- God," said he will not yield to demands
ma. by members of the gay community that
Filming of the movie "Cruising" in the script be rewritten.
the heavily homosexual Greenwich "We live in a free society. No
Village area has triggered a week of changes are contemplated," Weintraub
sometimes violent demonstrations by said.
gays who claim the picture merely In a week of demonstrations at
reinforces oldstereotypes. filming sites, which continued yester-
"WE'RE NOT asking for censorship. day, several protesters have been
We're saying, 'Get it out of our com-
munity,"' said Charles Brydon, co- arrested, including one charged with
executive director of The National Gay tryig to slash a policeman with a
Task Farce. razor.
"We're very conscious of the First PROTESTERS AND reporters have
Amendment with this particular film, been shoved to the ground and clubbed
and we're also aware that the film will and hundreds of riot equipped police
be made," he said. have been needed to keep the peace. A
"We're questioning that it's to be few minor injuries were reported.
ereenwich Village, the center But Mayor Edward Koch, who ban-
made in grcenity ,h e ned discrimination against
of the gay community." . homosexuals as one of the first acts of
THE FILM STARS Al Pacio as an his administration, refused Thursday to
undercover policeman assigned to stop withdraw the filming permit for
the killings of homosexuals. The detec- "Cruising."
tive discovers he too is gay and reacts "This city cannot and will not change
by going on a psychopathic killing its policies or goals in response to
spree. violence, disruptive or illegal ac-
The script is said to be rife with ex- tivities," the mayor said.
plicit, graphic details on the murders BRYDON CALLED Koch's action
and sexual mutilations of gays. "on a civil libertarian basis: the only

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