The Michigan Daily-Thursday 'June 8, 1978-Page 11
Burial pit subject to seepage,'U' prof says
By R.J. SMITH
with wire reports
A University professor testified
Tuesday that the clay pit built in Mio,
Michigan for the burial of PBB1-
poisoned cattle is seriously cracked and
highly susceptible to seepage.
Donald Gray, a professor of civil
engineering, told Oscoda County Cir-
cuit Court Judge Allan Miller of
engineering problems in the construc-
tion of the pit.
BECAUSE OF cracks, Gray said, it
might be possible for moisture to
mingle with PBB inside the pit and in
sufficient time leak out of the site to
taint the area's water supply.
"The rain (I saw) had simply
dissipated into the surface of the
liner-signifying that the liner was not
as impermeable as indicated by the
state," Gray explained.
The problem, Gray said, is the natue
of the clay used in constructing the pit.
"THE TYPE of clay they have used
in the site is a higly plastic clay, highly
vulnerable to shrinkage and cracking,"
"The stae has not covered the clay
with plastic or any type of nyoisture
sealant," Gray added, "and it's just
fissuring in the sun."
Gray said he had witnessed
numerous fissures in the walls and floor
of the pit, although it was unknown how
deep the cracks extended.
TUESDAY'S testimony occurred on
the fifth day of an evidentairy hearing
ordered by the Michigan Supreme
Court along with an order temporarily
barring the state from burying tainted
farm animals until the pit's safety
could be determined.
Tuesday was the first time the issue
of the pit's fissuring had come before
A Hart engineer hired by the county
to examine the proposed burial site-
testified earlier that a recent report
convinced him that the danger of
groundwater was minimal.
H.C. HALL testified that very little
PBB would seep through the clay lining
of the 2.2-acre burial site, calling the
report's figures "most remarkable."
Under cross examination, however,
Hall noted that the report examined
material 20 times less soluble than
Hall stated in testimony that he
believed pBB and HBB were the same,
but was then asked to read a part of the
report which described the differences
betwen the two substances.
HE SAID HE is convinced the state is
trying to dispose of the cattle in the
safest possible way.
Asked by Assistant Attorney General
Don Kefly whether the pit was safe,
Hall replied, "Reasonably safe, in the
same context that the Mackinac Bridge
is reasonably safe."
The hearings have recessed until
House OK's loan to aid
farmers hurt by PBB
NOW fears health code
would aid abortion foes
LASNING (UPI)-The state House
yesterday unanimously approved a $2.5
million low interest loan program for
farmers who face financial ruin
because of contamination from PBB or
The loan bill, sent to the Senate on a
97-0 vote, authorizes 20-year loands of
up to $75,000 to persons who demon-
strate they have suffered hardships as
a result of PBB, PCB or PCP. About 250
farm families are expected to be
PARTICIPATING farmers would
replay the loans at a 3 percent rate for
the first 10 years and for the remaining
10 years at a rate two percentage points
below the prevailing prime rate.
The measure establishes a five-
member commission charged with set-
ting eligibility standards and passing
on individual loan applications.
"There are a whale of a lot of these
people who are facing foreclosure or
bankltuptcy," said Rep. Francis
Spaniola, sponsor of the bill.
SPANIOLA ALSO sponsored the 1977
law removing from the market animals
contaminated with more than the
tiniest trace of PBB.
The bill's aim is to "assist those far-
mers who have no other recourse-they
might be waiting for a legal settlement
but that's all they have to hang their hat
on," said the Corunna Democrat.
Farmers who win court judgments in
contamination suits are required by
the measure to pay back their loans
within 90 days.
PBB, a fire retardant, contaminated
Michigan dairy herds as a result of a
1973 feeding mixing accident. Some
farm animals apparently ingested
PCP, a preservative, when they chewed
or licked wood beams treated with the
chemical. PCB is a widely-used multi-
purpose industrial chemical.
LANSING (UPI)-The Michigan
branch of the National Organization for
Women (NOW) claims a new public
health code pending in the state Senate
would help anti-abortion forces locate
and harass women who have had abor-
"That's not the way the health code
should work," NOW President Nan
Frost-Welmers said yesterday.
"IT SHOULD protect those women."
About 20 NOW members demon-
strated against the bill in a persistent
drizzle outside the state Capitol.
Frost-Welmers said the health code,
as currently is written, would allow the
state to keep too much identifying in-
formation on women who have had"
"IF.IN FACT, the purpose of the
proposed data collection of information
perta ining to performed abortions is to
safeguard maternal health, the stae
should be limited to collecting infor-
mation essential to determining the
impact of abortion on maternal
health," she said.
"The proposed language used to ob-
tain this information is overly broad
and has a chilling effect on the exer-
cising of the right to choose to have an
abortion. More importantly, the
language violates the right to privacy
guaranteed under the Constitution."
Frost-Welmers said that in states
where the names of persons who have
had abortions are collected, "the anti-
abortion people have harassed those
SHE SAID NOW is not against the
collection of helpful data about abor-
tion, but wants to make sure that
women's names and addresses are not
NOW also registered its opposition to
a section of the bill which it claimed
would "inhibit legitimae fetal resear-
"In their zeal to block reproductive
freedom, anti-choice legislators have
again done great damage to all citizens
by producing legislation inhibiting
research which would ultimately help
assure healthy babies," Frost-Welmers
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