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August 12, 1988 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1988-08-12

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Page 6 Friday, August 12, 1988
Ann Arbor residents sue company over dioxane poisoning
Gelman taints water
TWENTY YEARS AGO, FAMILIES LIVING IN SCIO Town- The compensation demanded by these families is well-de-
ship started noticing foul smells emanating from treatment la- served and long overdue. The long-term health effects of diox-
goons at Gelman Sciences corporation, a manufacturer of ane, which has been demonstrated to cause tumor-formation in
membranes and filters for medical use. By 1986, some of animals, are still unknown. The medical treatment made
Gelman's neighbors learned that their'water supply was con- necessary by the chemical should be paid for by the company
taminated with dioxane and were notified not to drink or bathe that put these families in danger. Furthermore, because Gel-
in their water. Soon after, over 50 residential and commercial man's mishandling of dioxane robbed these families of their
wells near Gelman were found to be poisoned by a plume of wells, forcing them to pay for Ann Arbor city water, the com-
contamination that had spread as far as one mile from the pany should pay their water bills.
Gelman facility. More importantly, the suit could set a national precedent by
Sixty families living near Gelman were plunged into a requiring polluters to shoulder the cost of providing medical
nightmare of motel showers, bottled water and high anxiety. screening to citizens exposed to their toxic substances. Such a
By 1987, Gelman was ranked number two on the DNR's Pri- precedent will deter companies from negligence with toxic
ority List of Sites of Environmental Contamination. But the materials in the future.
most recent episode in the sordid saga of Gelman Sciencesc o- fIt is relatively simple for a company to obscure the details
pitchedof their toxic waste disposal, as the Gelman example illus-
cun$ed this week: 16 of these families banned together,pa trates. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), theoreti-
in $100 dollars a piece and filed a suit against escompany cally responsible for monitoring Gelman's activities, lacked
for long-term medical costs, as well as for costs resulting the time, money and the proper testing techniques adequately
from the loss of their wells and subsequent dependence upon to do so. Therefore, the DNR had to rely upon the company to
city water supplies, provide records of its own activities, as well as test results of

The Michigan Daily
for profit
toxicity in the surrounding area.
But Gelman was extremely slow in delivering important in-
formation to the DNR: Gelman did not report that they were
disposing of dioxane until 1980, although they should have
given a complete inventory when applying for a permit in
1976. Gelman refused to release a series of test results on the
Third Sister Lake on the grounds that this "would not serve
any useful purpose." A year later, the lake was found to be
contaminated at a level of 510 ppb (the State health advisory
for dioxane in drinking water is 2ppb).
The crimes Gelman has committed against its neighbors are
clear: Dioxane is a suspected human carcinogen. Since 1963,
dioxane and other chemical wastes produced at Gelman have
been burned, leaked, seeped, sprayed and injected into deep
wells through waste disposal methods that are illegal and show
flagrant disregard for human health. Gelman will no doubt
bring formidable legal machinery to its defense. The time has
come, however, for companies like Gelman to be forced to
comply with the law, and for citizens hurt and inconvenienced
by their negligence to be justly recompensed.

Peace acts conquer weapons

Unsigned editorials represent the majority views of the Daily's
Editorial Board. Cartoons and signed editorials do not
necessarily reflect the Daily's opinion.

Hey hey, ho ho, ---
groups has come out in opposition
to the new protest policy and depu-
tization of campus security which
violates student rights and is clearly
intended to repress dissent on cam-
pus. The right to protest embodies
the right of free speech and any in-
fringement on it constitutes
By criminalizing campus con-
duct, the University is appointing
itself both legislator and prosecutor
- a clear violation of civil liber-
ties. Under the new policy, the ad-
ministration has the power to both
define "unacceptable conduct" and to
determine the punishment. Though
the policy will be applied only to
students, by abolishing Bylaw
7.02, the regents effectively made
sure that there would be no student
input to either of the processes.
Autonomy between those who
devise the rules and those who en-
force them is crucial to objectivity.
Having deputized campus security
enforce the protest policy creates a
totalitarian state in which the Uni-
versity stands as an island of
repression within society at large.
A look at other colleges with
deputized security forces presents a,

to go
grim future for dissent on this
campus. The University of Califor-
nia at Berkley's deputized security
made the pages of Life magazine in
spring 1986 as officers brutally
dragged away a student peacefully
demonstrating for divestment from
South Africa. Campus police
at the University of Wisconsin at
Madison have used mace to repress
peaceful demonstrators on their
campus. Michigan State University
security guards carry huge guns
which many students feel threatened
by. These intimidation factors
hardly create an environment open
to the free exchange of ideas.
President Fleming attempts to
justify deputization with the claim
that the University will be better
able to prevent violent conflict be-
tween students and its own security
guards than between students and
city police. Yet Robert Patrick, one
of the guards Fleming wants to
deputize, is currently being sued for
assaulting a student protester last
November. The administration
must not be allowed to succeed in
its grab for power and its attempt to
repress students and violate their

O N A UGUST 6, 1945, T H E
United States dropped an atomic
bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Nearly
100,000 civilians died. Three days
later, on August 9, another bomb
was dropped on the city of Na-
gasaki. An additional 74,000 people
were killed instantly or died excru-
ciating deaths in the weeks to fol-
If history is indeed written by the
victors, then perhaps it is not
surprising that these deaths should
go less remembered in the U.S.
public consciousness than the Pearl
Harbor attack - which produced
much fewer casualties and yet went
on to became a modern symbol of
mili y aggression.
Fortunately, there are those who
see the carnage in another way. Last
Monday in Oakland County, 150
demonstrators commemorated the
43rd anniversary of the Hiroshima
and Nagasaki massacres by
blockading the gates of the
Williams International Corporation,
a designer and manu-facturer of
cruise missile engines. Twenty-five
were arrested. In both their choice
of targets and their means of ex-
pressing their respect for the vic-
tims of U.S. nuclear terrorism,
these protesters have made a
powerful statement.
By manufacturing engines for
cruise missiles, Williams Incorpo-
rated contributes to a frightening
nuclear policy known in Pentagon-
ese as Escalation Dominance. This
policy - and the technology de-
signed to carry it out - allows the
United States to wage a protracted
nuclear war in many geographic
theaters simultaneously.
According to University physics
professor Dan Axelrod, a participant

weapons protest in Walled Lake,
Mi. last Friday.
in Monday's demonstration, cruise
missiles form the backbone of
Escalation Dominance theory and
provide the missing link between
limited conventional war and nu-
clear war.
Cruise missiles, while not first
strike weapons, are appealing to the
war-fighters for their great versatil-
ity. Theycan be fired from almost
anywhere: bombers, aircraft carriers,
subs, automobile garages. Origi-
nally designed as bargaining chips
for arms control negotiations, the
cruise has become a weapon of ag-
gression, intervention and destabi-
The engines that drive these mis-
siles are produced here in Michigan
in a quiet community called Walled
Lake. There might be no better way
to mark the anniversary of the Hi-'
roshima and Nagasaki massacres
than by attempting to prevent the
manu-facture of these engines from
taking place than through acts of

Non-violent resistance is a way
of bringing moral clarity to im-
moral policies. It has had a history
of success in raising public aware-
ness about nuclear terrorism, a
concept almost unthinkable in its
In Europe, massive acts of non-
violent resistance have succeeded in
effecting important structural
changes in these policies. The
signing of the INF treaty may be
one such triumph, according to
some foreign policy analysts.
Demonstrations by the "Green-ham
women' against the deployment of
nuclear weapons insGreat Britain
and massive protest. spearheaded by
the Green Party in West Germany
were in a large part responsible for
making disarmament part of the
European national agendas.
Despite the achievements of the
anti-nuclear movement in Europe,
the apparent landmark in arms re-
duction that the INF treaty repre-
sented in fact contains a huge loop-
hole. The INF provides for the re-
moval of pershing and cruise
ground missiles from sites all over
Europe, but it neglects to mention
the possibility of replacing the old
ground cruise missiles with new
ones on submarines - a possi-
bility quickly becoming reality.
New cruise missiles are currently
being manufactured for this pur-
pose, and Williams International
will be making all of the engines.
One nuclear cruise missile con-
tains sixteen times the power of the
bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
There is no better way to remember
the victims of Hiroshima than to
prevent their production and de-

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