What Really Is At The Bottom Of

Our Lakes Essay, Research Paper

6 Sep., 1996

What Really is at the Bottom of our Lakes

In the article ?Sludge? William Ashworth points out that with the success of economic growth, the cost is often the environment. This is most evident in our lakes and rivers, which have served as a dumping ground whether we realized it or not. This has caused environmental problems, health problems, and toxins we can not dispose of properly.9

Ashworth has many different cases in which to support this article. The citizens of Waukegan, Illinois, for example wanted to have a port built for their harbor, so that businesses would come and their town could grow. The people?s request was granted, and as hoped, new business flocked to this new port. Among these businesses was a boatbuilder named Johnson, which used polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) to lubricate and use as hydraulic fluids for industrial applications such as aluminum die-casting. This chemical was cheap and the chemist who was producing it had ?assured everyone that it was almost completely inert? (278). This chemist was presumed to be an authority on this chemical, so the company did not question his analysis. Johnson motors started to use the PCB with no preventive or safety actions taken. In 1976 the Water Quality Board did a report on Waukegan Harbor and in this report the board said that the harbor was ?grossly contaminated with PCB? (279) The company evaluated, that a fifth of this chemical leaked from machinery, or spilled onto the floor, where it was washed down drains and deposited at the bottom of their harbor.. They have tried to dispose of these toxins, but there is no secure method to do so.

According to the author, our environment is very delicate and must be treated with care. This was not the case in Kyushu, Japan as Ashworth points out. More than one thousand people came down with poisoning. The symptoms were serious like; jaundice, swollen limbs and joints, severe lassitude, and acne-like lesions. Mothers gave birth to gray-skinned babies undersized with discharge running from their eyes. After the analyses were made it was determined that it was PCB, which had come from a leaking transformer in a local rice-milling plant. A batch of rice was contaminated and went undetected because PCB has no color or smell, causing five people to die.

The major problem with the pollutants at the bottom of these lakes, is what to do with the toxins when you bring them to the surface. With current technology it is virtually impossible to get rid of, all that can really be done is to pile it up, but that isn?t very effective. Other people have suggested to bury it, throw it in a very deep ocean trench, or put it in a landfill. In some cases the only thing to do is to just leave it there. In Waukegan Harbor the water is so contaminated that it can not even be dredged, which means the harbor will eventually fill in with sediment. The end result would put a severe halt to the economic growth of this community.

The oceans and lakes seem like an endless abyss but that is not the case. What is done is done and there is no changing past, we can only find ways to clean up the environment hoping that further contamination will not happen. Currently new ideas are being tested, but none have truly been successful.


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