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NASA's Plan To Clean Up Space Program Launch Site Contamination

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the lots-of-paper-towels dept.

NASA 96

Elliot Chang tips a story about plans from NASA and the US Air Force to clean up the areas around the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which have been contaminated with decades worth of carcinogenic chemicals from launching Shuttles, the Apollo moon missions, and other rockets. The KSC cleanup is expected to take 30 years, and will cost an estimated $96 million. "By far, the most common contaminant is a chlorinated solvent called trichloroethylene, or 'trike,' and its breakdown products — substances known to cause birth defects and cancer and reaching concentrations thousands of times higher than federal drinking water standards allow. ... Kennedy's sandy, alkaline soils are thought to neutralize most metals and other contaminants before they become a problem up the food chain. But trike dies hard. And workers kept pouring it into the ground in the early years of the shuttle program, thinking it would evaporate."

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Detox danger:Trendy colon cleansing a risky ritual (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952146)

You may be flushing more than your waste and your wallet down the toilet with a colon cleanse. Your health could be circling the drain, too, according to a new study released today in the Journal of Family Practice.

Re:Detox danger:Trendy colon cleansing a risky rit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952262)

What on earth are you even talking about???

Re:Detox danger:Trendy colon cleansing a risky rit (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952308)

It seems to be a new form of trolling, pasting in a story that has no relation to the topic and see how many pick it up.

Sometimes the trolls are better than the stories.

Re:Detox danger:Trendy colon cleansing a risky rit (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952806)

Trolls of yesteryear were trying to provoke an angry reaction. While that was still pathetic, at least they seemed to have a goal in mind. And we liked it! We loved it! Gave you something to get your blood in a boil about if that's what you wanted, gave you someone to feel superior to if you didn't! "I may be a 22 year old virgin living in my mom's basement, but at least I'm not a 22 year old virgin living in my mom's basement and posting racist stuff online anonymously in a desperate attempt to feel like anyone takes any notice of my sad existence!!!"

Trolls these days seem to just be wasting electricity. And their computers are a lot more efficient than ours were, so they're not even doing THAT well.

But back to my point, which was: STAY OFF MY LAWN! And while you're at it, clean up that space launch crap you've got on yours.

Re:Detox danger:Trendy colon cleansing a risky rit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952334)

I think the commenter is trying to say Kennedy Space Center is the Colon of US public funding for science.

Re:Detox danger:Trendy colon cleansing a risky rit (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952386)

I thought that was basically every defense contractor the US military has that has an R&D budget?

Re:Detox danger:Trendy colon cleansing a risky rit (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953694)

I use the manual colon cleanse method, and if that fails the "Enumclaw Equine Dilator" does the trick.

Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952198)

So the disposal method was, let it evaporate? Then instead of evaporating it in a metal pan, they poured it on the ground?
WTF!?!

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952316)

well, yeah. because it evaporates from solid metal surfaces. just like water.

Oh, wait, it also evaporates into the ground. just like water.

(BTW, it's also known as "TCE".)

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952384)

I'm glad someone brought up TCE quickly. I've been in the environmental industry for 10 years and can't remember one instance of calling it trike. Maybe the old timers have.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952714)

I always called it Tri-Ethane, which is also a trademark, I think...

And yes, I would be happy to take it in and dispose of it for ya. Nothing better for degreasing, all you have to do is pay attention and let it evaporate before you do any welding or hot work. L0ser environmentalists stuck me with the tri-ethelyne, not nearly as effective.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953046)

> L0ser environmentalists stuck me with the tri-ethelyne,

Sounds like the "losers" won.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953096)

Used to call it "trichlor". "trike" is similar enough.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about 3 years ago | (#36963304)

We called it "trike" back in the early 90's until it was quickly replaced with a different solvent due to trike being dangerous. Good thing we didn't pour it out of 5-gallon buckets onto our liquid-cooled TWTs to get the ethylene glycol off it when the hoses leaked or came off. That explains why I can do anything a spider can I spose...

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36965300)

I saw it being used in industrial (dozens of large metre-high drums) quantities at an aerospace firm in the UK in the late 80s. Heard it referred to as trike then, and my uncle used to refer to it by that name, he worked at Metropolitan Vickers (metrovics) in Manchester in the 50s.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

Zomalaja (1324199) | about 3 years ago | (#36956462)

I worked for years in the textile industry. One plant had a "dry cleaning" machine for raw fabric that used perchloroethylene, it was heated, sprayed through the fabric, then the fabric was run through a pool of Perc. The dirty perc was distilled for re-use, all we had to do was pull out a big tray of sludge but we seldom added fresh perc to it. No noticeable smell around the maching or in the sludge. Company was RIMAR SP now known as Sperotto Rimar. I am pretty sure trichlorethane/trichlorethylene can be redistilled and re-used also. Cheaper to just dump it I guess.....

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952338)

So the disposal method was, let it evaporate? Then instead of evaporating it in a metal pan, they poured it on the ground? WTF!?!

If I were an embittered cynic, I might be inclined to suggest that workers, under time and/or budget and/or managerial pressure, were really concerned with making the problem go away as quickly as possible, rather than making sure that the problem specifically evaporated away... Evaporation isn't all that fast, compared to absorption into a porous medium, and evaporation out of an impermeable vessel makes it really easy to see how much hasn't evaporated yet, while absorption makes it comparatively difficult to measure how much hasn't evaporated unless somebody specifically budgets for a bunch of test wells...

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952406)

That long ago, I'm surprised they didn't just pour it down the drain or right in the ocean. ;)

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952562)

That long ago, I'm surprised they didn't just pour it down the drain or right in the ocean. ;)

Ever see the Cape Canaveral area? That's pretty much what they did. Poured it into the sand - the water table is a few feet below - after a little while it gets diluted in the Great Garbage Pit (an ocean).

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952342)

What strikes me as more WTF is that "substances known to cause birth defects and cancer" were supposed to freely evaporate and spread far and wide.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (3, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952430)

Trichloroethylene was used for decades to decaffeinate coffee, among other uses, so it wasn't considered particularly dangerous until fairly recently.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952658)

Also commonly used for "dry cleaning"

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

adolf (21054) | about 3 years ago | (#36954976)

Also commonly packaged as "brake cleaner [supplyhero.com] " (except in California).

The stuff does evaporate very quickly, at least in the quantities I'm familiar with. I use it as a general-purpose cleaner/degreaser on all kinds of stuff, and I keep a can of it in the basement to quickly and quietly dispatch any of the horrible [google.com] spiders [google.com] that can be found down there.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952754)

'Trike'; is Trichloroethane. Slightly different.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953090)

As far as I can find on Internet, those are the same thing; different names for C2 H Cl3.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953122)

Oops (responding to self), I misread your post. Trichloroethylene and trichloroethene are the synonymous ones (C2HCl3), while you mentioned Trichloroethane, which seems to be one of two different things [wikipedia.org] . But as far as I can find, it's trichloroethylene/trichloroethene that is called "trike".

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (2)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953192)

Well, the article persists in saying 'trichlorethylene', which is substantially slower to evaporate than trichloroethane (aka 1,1,1 trichloroethane). Also less toxic, and less of everything, mostly.

NASA published this [nasa.gov] report on 'inhibited 1,1,1 trichloroethane', replacing trichlorethylene, but I recall in the 90s that Tri-Ethane was essentially banned from common uses, thanks Montreal.

Apparently, the 'inhibited' part of Tri-Ethane is the addition of dioxane, amyl alcohol, or nitromethane, and butylene oxide. Doesn't that sound yummy.

Working on typewriters, IBM delivered it as 'Tri-Ethane', "1,1,1 trichloroethane", and I could find the part number for you in a week or so... It even cleaned your clothes. Good stuff, that.

Calling it Methyl Chloroform does diminish the appeal, I admit.

We won't even get into MEK. That stuff is the printer's friend, and just plain nasty.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952444)

Gasoline probably qualifies as a substance known to cause birth defects and cancer. Evaporation is one disposal method for that too. The solution to pollution is dilution.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952634)

The solution to pollution is dilution.

wait for another generation or 2 and all our 100 thousands of different toxic-indestructible-in-biodegradable shit will be diluted so thoroughly in the food chain ... anything thrown away will eventually end up on our plates.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952720)

The solution to pollution is dilution.

Well, sometimes. Think of LA's smog problem, or the depletion of the ozone layer due to CFC's - dilution wasn't working too well. Putting laws on the books helped a lot though.

Another example is heavy metals put into the air by coal burning. It was diluted in the ground before, it's diluted in the air now. One is a lot better than the other.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 years ago | (#36957606)

Gasoline probably qualifies as a substance known to cause birth defects and cancer. Evaporation is one disposal method for that too.

Not a legal one.

The solution to pollution is dilution.

Dilution is NOT repeat NOT a working solution for accumulative substances, whether they accumulate in the body or in the environment. Period, the end, full stop.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952464)

There is also the fact that the stuff was a solvent, so it was presumably used for cleaning/degreasing/etc. and thus would only be considered waste once it had acquired a load of assorted dissolved materials, many of them probably nasty, which wouldn't evaporate at all and would simply be left in the soil...

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952610)

In the 1960s/early 70s my father owned an electronic shop building specialty transformers for the Defense Department. I worked with him as a teenager doing bench work and wire wrap, among other things. We used "trichlor" as a general solvent for everything from degreasing metal parts, to cleaning tabletops, and yes we washed our hands in it (miraculously I'm OK and have healthy kids...)

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (2)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952998)

when I was in the navy we practically bathed in the stuff. I had a friend hack off the end of his finger when we were in port one time and they took him to a hospital off the boat. A nurse was trying to get his hand clean so the doctor could stitch it up and was having a hard time. She asked, "How do you get this stuff off your hands?" His answer was, "You don't want to know."

Every year we had to fill out forms listing all the toxic stuff we'd been exposed to during the course of our work - trichlor was one of many.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952662)

interestingly it also attacks the ozone layer. win-win-win, pollutes ground, water and air! http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts70.pdf [cdc.gov]

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (2)

tonytnnt (1335443) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953840)

So the disposal method was, let it evaporate? Then instead of evaporating it in a metal pan, they poured it on the ground?
WTF!?!

This was standard practice almost everywhere prior to environmental regulations being enacted. And not just for TCE. The U.S. Government is paying for contamination dating back to at least WW2 (including TCE -- I've never heard it called "trike" -- among other contaminants) due to procedures like this. I can't really fault the people at the time though -- there wasn't really a thought out question of "wait a minute, where does all this stuff go and what does it do after we throw it out?" back then. I'm sure NASA, with its large LOX (liquid oxygen, not bagel topping) and general solvent needs has quite a bit of TCE just sitting at the bottom of their water table, maybe even pure product (where you get an actual layer of liquid contaminant.) There are methods other than pump and treat or ZVI to taking care of TCE, especially in such shallow environments (stimulated in situ biodegredation comes to mind) but to get back to your main question, yeah, that was SOP just about everywhere. Throw the solvent/washwater/etc on the gravel parking lot/sand sump/grass and don't think about it anymore.

Note: I work in the environmental industry, but I do not speak on behalf of my company, its stakeholders, or its clients. I also have no specific knowledge of the NASA site beyond what I read in the article.

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36955046)

Proof that not everyone at NASA is a rocket-scientist...

Re:Thinking it would evaporate? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 3 years ago | (#36956644)

Evaporation only makes the problem go to some mythical place called "Away". "Away" does not appear in any atlas or gazetteer I've found, and in fact often turns out to be your neighbour's yard.
The Cubans should sue but are unlikely to lower themselves to American standards. The Bahamians could sue, and probably ought to. The Puerto Ricans probably can't.

"Trike", "chlorothene", 1,1,1-trichloroethylene is not particularly nice stuff. It's chemically homologous to chloroform, which is a known cumulative liver poison, which will probably get you before it's (likely) carcinogenicity does.

We stopped using it about 19 years ago, despite it being a damned good tool for the job we used it for, and for many other "off-book" jobs too. I couldn't justify the hazard to myself and my fellow workers for the utility that it had. So we use something else (non-chlorinated, with several biochemical pathways for detoxifying it, so it's non-cumulative ; for details, arrange a meeting through Reception when I'm on the correct continent) for it's main task and the "off-book" tasks we do with less effective solvents and elbow grease. I was not popular, but at the time, I was the stock buyer and I simply stopped buying it, used up our stocks and removed it from the order forms. To add it back, it would have to pass a change review including a risk assessment, and it won't ever pass that.

No doubt. (1)

arudloff (564805) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952230)

I live here in the space coast. Back in HS, a rocket blew up overhead and we all had to stay in doors while this crazy looking cloud floated above head. No idea what was in it or what it was, but I figure it lowered my life expectancy a few months.

No doubt in my mind there's some nasty stuff around those pads!

Re:No doubt. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952494)

A rocket explosion may have had you inside because of concerns about delicious Hydrazine [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:No doubt. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952620)

When I was a kid, I grew up about 30 miles south of the Cape. We watched a number of aborted launches, watched as the cloud drifted overhead. Never were told to get inside. Of course, those were the days when we just bicycled around the trucks vaporizing some godawful chemical designed to kill mosquitos.

Probably explains why I spend so much time here on the short bus of the Internet.

Re:No doubt. (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953020)

Of course, those were the days when we just bicycled around the trucks vaporizing some godawful chemical designed to kill mosquitos.

That was just DDT, it's about the only stuff that really works for mosquito control.

Re:No doubt. (1)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953228)

just? IANAtoxicologist but this [wikimedia.org] sounds - uhm - unhealthy

Re:No doubt. (1)

tftp (111690) | about 3 years ago | (#36956220)

With LD50 of 115 mg/kg an average slashdotter needs to eat a teacup full of DDT to have 50% chance of dropping dead. A common rat poison [answers.com] , for comparison, has LD50 between 2 and 8 mg/kg.

Re:No doubt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952528)

I live here in the space coast. Back in HS, a rocket blew up overhead and we all had to stay in doors while this crazy looking cloud floated above head. No idea what was in it or what it was, but I figure it lowered my life expectancy a few months. No doubt in my mind there's some nasty stuff around those pads!

Rocket fuel can be especially nasty. I know someone who was exposed to rocket fuel vapors. He entered a test chamber he was told had been flushed, it wasn't. He remembers going through a hatch and then waking up in the hospital. He nearly died at the time. 25 or so years later (age mid 50s) he died of an odd cancer. He had a strange soreness in the upper back, he though it was aging and overworking some muscles. After a few weeks later he visited the doctor. The doctor went the aging overexertion route also. A few months later they started running various tests. Another few months later they discovered the cancer. It had moved into the spinal column and was inoperable. Don't dismiss any weird growths or persistent pains. Sorry for all the negativity. A positive note, MRI's and such were in their infancy at the time so hopefully we have better diagnostics to catch things early.

40% of people get cancer (2)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952852)

About 25% die with cancer. Sure, chemicals play a role, but the true reason for such high cancer rates is that people don't usually die because of curable illnesses. And cancer is - so far - not curable. The more progress we have in curing other diseases, treating injuries and preventing accidents - the more cancer deaths there will be, it's unavoidable.

Someone having cancer after being contaminated with some chemical is *not* proof of the cancer being caused by the chemical. The normal rate of cancer is just too high to proof even the effect of highly carcinogenic substances this way.

Re:40% of people get cancer (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953250)

Also some people's DNA has traits that make them more likely to get cancer. Cancers do run in some families. There is now a theory that cancer may be a genetic throw back to some ancient form of life. IOW it's not a disease but rather a genetic switch that gets thrown and causes 'de-evolution' of cells.

Re:40% of people get cancer (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 3 years ago | (#36955250)

There are even viruses that cause cancer. Not primarily, but retroviruses have to mess with reproduction mechanisms of their host cell in order to propagate and if something goes wrong in that process, you end up with a possibility to get a cancer cell. The likelihood of something going wrong depends upon the the RNA (or even DNA) of the virus (there are some DNA viruses). And of course those viruses can spread and infect other people. So, in a way some cancers can even be infective (or at least their root cause), I think I remember that some kinds of leukemia are among those.

Re:40% of people get cancer (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | about 3 years ago | (#36961408)

Human papillomavirus has been implicated in cancer, particularly cervical cancer, where it's thought to cause nearly all cases. Populations where HPV has been reduced have seen lower rates of cervical cancer, and this is the major reason that Gardasil (HPV vaccine) has become so strongly recommended among girls who have reached sexual maturity.

Re:No doubt. (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952786)

was that the Delta II explosion of January 17, 1997? The first stage has both a liquid fuel engine of kerosene and oxygen, and also solid rocket boosters with rubber, aluminum and ammonium perchlorate. yum yum, probably smelled better than a diesel truck with a tire melting and burning on the exhaust pipe.

Pour it where?? (2)

TehNoobTrumpet (1836716) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952232)

From TFA:
"They advised users to pour the solvent on "dry sand, earth, or ashes at a safe distance from occupied areas" to promote evaporation."
Wouldn't pouring it on porous materials cause it to get absorbed and not promote evaporation at all?
Basic physics would imply that to promote evaporation you'd want as large a surface to air ratio as possible, or am I doing it wrong?

Re:Pour it where?? (2)

eln (21727) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952336)

Give them a break. In the early days of the space program, in the 50s and 60s, their advice was to use the solvent in place of milk in children's breakfast cereals. The recommendation to pour it on the ground away from populated areas was a huge win for environmentalists.

Re:Pour it where?? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952426)

You joke; but the substance was historically used in food-processing applications(solvent extractions of various things, decaffeination, etc.) and as an inhalation anaesthetic...

Luckily, cigarettes were still good for you at that time, and helped to suppress the more serious tumors.

aka: The Valdez package (aka The BP package) (3, Funny)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952258)

The way the $96M will break down:

1) Hire 150 people from the unemployment line
2) Purchase 150 white jumpsuits, boots and hardhats off Ebay
3) Purchase 150 rolls of Downy (The Quicker Picker Upper)
4) Announce clean-up effort to media who roll the vans
5) CNN is ablaze for a week with pics of clean-up efforts and dirty paper towel
6) Next week, all is forgotten
7) Split the $94M three ways with other vampires running the corporation

Re:aka: The Valdez package (aka The BP package) (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952542)

1) Lobby Congress for a waiver to give work visas to 150 people from Mexico and South America.

Fixed that for you

Re:aka: The Valdez package (aka The BP package) (1)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952632)

hmm, don't know, the sum seems incredible low. TFA talks about 2 square miles of contaminated soil, NASA will pay the $96M, Airforce aditionally $50M.

one area in Germany (5.5 ha size or 0.02 square miles) was decontaminated between 1999 and 2001 (formerly used by a dye manufacturer) - for the amount of €33M.

either the US is much more effective in soil decon or I don't have all needed infos about this project...

Re:aka: The Valdez package (aka The BP package) (2)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953030)

Well, we're pretty good at it by now. Economies of scale.

Re:aka: The Valdez package (aka The BP package) (1)

tonytnnt (1335443) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953974)

hmm, don't know, the sum seems incredible low. TFA talks about 2 square miles of contaminated soil, NASA will pay the $96M, Airforce aditionally $50M.

one area in Germany (5.5 ha size or 0.02 square miles) was decontaminated between 1999 and 2001 (formerly used by a dye manufacturer) - for the amount of €33M.

either the US is much more effective in soil decon or I don't have all needed infos about this project...

The site's geology can drastically affect the price of cleanup -- generally more so than the concentrations. The hard part about environmental cleanup is getting to the contamination -- just digging it all up is very expensive and more in line with the €33M dye site you're mentioning. The NASA cleanup appears to be in situ remediation (as evidenced by using emulsified ZVI) where they'll inject the solution into the ground to break down the contaminant in place. It'll take longer, but its far cheaper, and for solvent contamination generally the better option.

I'm going to make a huge guess and say the dye manufacturer was a heavy metals site because €33M for 0.02 square miles on a site (considering dyes can often contain lead, chromium, etc.) makes me think heavy metals, which are generally either capped and left in place, or dug up. And based on that price tag, I'm gonna go with dug up. But it could have been solvents -- I have no knowledge of Germany's environmental laws nor their preferred cleanup methods/timelines.

Finally, that $150 million might not be the final price tag if they find out that the plume is bigger than they thought.

Re:aka: The Valdez package (aka The BP package) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952896)

You forgot overrun costs, which usually at the very least double the costs.

Re:aka: The Valdez package (aka The BP package) (4, Informative)

citizenr (871508) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953062)

This is exactly how Exxon Valdez oil spill was "cleaned". They used Hot Water Pressure Washers to "clean up" rocks. It:
-killed everything that survived the oil (moss, bacteria, microorganisms)
-evaporated/made oil airborn making workers breath it
-pushed oil back into the ocean or deeper into the ground

Re:aka: The Valdez package (aka The BP package) (1)

n0tWorthy (796556) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953770)

I think they meant Billion.

Re:aka: The Valdez package (aka The BP package) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36954134)

The Quicker Picker Upper is Bounty. Downy is a fabric softener brand.

Sure, $96 million sounds like a lot (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952272)

But considering that's like 1/7th of what it costs to launch a single shuttle, it's really not that bad.

Re:Sure, $96 million sounds like a lot (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952388)

Or 0.5% of their $18B annual budget. But the $96M expenditures for KSC will be spread out over 30 years, so it's more like .02% of their annual budget. (though they estimate the agency-wide cleanup costs to be $1B, presumably also in a 30 year period.)

They form viscous toxic goo that will take $1 billion in cleanup costs agencywide over many decades, and could bog down funding for next-generation spacecraft.
NASA estimates it will spend $96 million in the next 30 years at Kennedy Space Center, including $6 million this year. The Air Force says it will take another $50 million to get the rest of its cleanups at Cape Canaveral under way by 2017.

Re:Sure, $96 million sounds like a lot (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952492)

As cleanups go, this is a ridiculously small percentage of the cost of making the mess.

Re:Sure, $96 million sounds like a lot (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952536)

Only because the cost of making the mess is literally astronomical.

Re:Sure, $96 million sounds like a lot (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953044)

ba-dum-tchhhhhhhh

Not the cleaning, the contamination is the problem (2)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952598)

What you should really ask is, what was the (health) damage suffered before they cleaned it up. The statement that they poured this stuff into the environment in the "first years" suggests that it hasn't been cleaned up for at least 20 years even though everybody knew it wouldn't be going away.

This is suspicious (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952354)

A prelude to selling off all that nice Florida beach front property NASA owns? Part of the debt deal that it is transfered into some tea party hacks name?

Re:This is suspicious (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952834)

"some tea party hacks name"

Maybe, if they can elbow their way up to the trough. It's pretty crowded already, with Democrats, Republicans, and thieves who don't distinguish between political parties, as you should not either. Thief is not a political subdivision.

Re:This is suspicious (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953842)

Wait, I thought the Tea Partiers were being blasted as "terrorists" this week for not being bought-off by pork in the budget battle. I guess the important thing is to vilify someone on the other team.

Re:This is suspicious (1)

syousef (465911) | about 3 years ago | (#36956298)

Wait, I thought the Tea Partiers were being blasted as "terrorists"

Everyone knows real patriots drink coffee and like the smell mixed with Napalm.

Re:This is suspicious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952888)

I also found this interesting from the perspective that NASA must be getting ready to sell off KSC. I mean if they are still planning to use it years from now, what would be the point of the cleanup. Or they could be turning it into a museum.

Your crack about the tea party was unfounded though. Given the recent debt deal, I don't see how the tea party has much power. The debt reduction was pathetically small and will come with further tax increases in ObamaCare and hidden in the deal. Anyone with a brain can see this is just politics as usual.

(plus one iNformative) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952516)

be a lOt slower AASOCIATION OF

How is future contamination avoided ? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952618)

How is future contamination avoided? I skimmed the article and didn't notice anything. Better fuels, motors, handling? Or no more launches from these sites?

Re:How is future contamination avoided ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952680)

How is future contamination avoided? I skimmed the article and didn't notice anything. Better fuels, motors, handling? Or no more launches from these sites?

I skimmed the /. summary and came up with the logical answer to your question: not dumping solvents on the ground anymore.

Re:How is future contamination avoided ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953574)

How is future contamination avoided? I skimmed the article and didn't notice anything. Better fuels, motors, handling? Or no more launches from these sites?

I skimmed the /. summary and came up with the logical answer to your question: not dumping solvents on the ground anymore.

Where is that logic you refer to? You are essentially restating the question of the GP, just in a more awkward fashion. The new handling procedure remains unknown, whether those Apollo era solvents are still in use remains unknown, etc.

Re:How is future contamination avoided ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952734)

Canceling the space program in order to create more tax cuts for the rich and welfare programs for the banks.

Re:How is future contamination avoided ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953464)

Canceling the space program in order to create more tax cuts for the rich and welfare programs for the banks.

Actually with the liberals in charge that would be: Canceling the space program in order to create more "war on poverty" type programs that for the last 50 years have made no change in poverty levels despite trillions spent.

Were you under the delusion that only one side buys votes from its "constituents" and can spend trillions to no effect? How naive.

Re:How is future contamination avoided ? (1)

tonytnnt (1335443) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954056)

How is future contamination avoided? I skimmed the article and didn't notice anything. Better fuels, motors, handling? Or no more launches from these sites?

Modern regulations require better tracking from the cradle (production) to grave (disposal.) And dumping it on the ground is not an approved disposal method. Generally with solvents they're collected and recycled, which can mean they're cleaned up and reused, or degraded into non-toxic materials. They can also be containerized (put into drums) and disposed of at special hazardous waste landfills which get extra monitoring to ensure contamination isn't leaking from them.

Moral of the story... (1)

stoofa (524247) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952804)

Tidy as you go.

SRBs: all kinds of nasty stuff (3, Interesting)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953074)

On one of MIT Open Course lectures, http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/aeronautics-and-astronautics/16-885j-aircraft-systems-engineering-fall-2005/lecture-notes/lecture-2/ [mit.edu] where Aaron Cohen (orbiter project manager in 1972) discussed history of the Space Shuttle, professor Jeff Hoffman said on one launch with family members 3 miles from launch pad had to get in the busses to leave the area 5 minutes after launch. Hoffman's brother was a "space nut" and wanted to watch the vehicle go over the horizon (and he was not happy about leaving early). Reason they moved everyone because afternoon launch had smoke from the SRBs drifting toward the viewing site. There's all kinds of nasty stuff and they didn't want people to get exposed to the smoke.

Thanks to Tekfactory for bringing these MIT courses to my attention.

Re:SRBs: all kinds of nasty stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953258)

One of the most toxic substances in the exhaust of the SRBs is HCl (hydrogen chloride), which forms hydrochloric acid when mixed in water. About 35% of the exhaust is HCl if I remember correctly. The reason I know this is because the SRBs use Ammonium perchlorate composite propellant, the same fuel that is also used in high power rocketry.

Let the bugs do it: (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953244)

There's been a lot of work done in using microbes that already exist in soils to break a lot of contaminants down in situ. You just have to give them the right environment to do it in. Sometimes you have to add water, or hydrogen, or methane in the areas they're working.

Terry Hazen at the Department of Energy is one of the people involved in using it during the nuclear site cleanups. It's been pretty successful.

In the method outlined here, they do it directly by adding finely divided iron, letting it react with water giving Fe(II), hydrogen and OH-. It then breaks down chlorinated hydrocarbons without microbes.

(Though, my sneaky suspicion is that whenever you give some of the microbes that are already present in the soil iron(II) and hydrogen they'll do a lot of the work of reducing chlorine compounds too.)

Re:Let the bugs do it: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36954920)

Let the bugs do it [...] nuclear site cleanups

Great... so we get radioactive mutant bugs attacking us.

Them: (1)

Hartree (191324) | about 3 years ago | (#36958262)

But it makes for great 50s style sci fi flicks.

If the estimate is 96 million (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953466)

Look for the total cost to be at least double that. You ever know a government estimate to be anywhere close to the final bill?

TCE is a VERY common solvent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953644)

Fairchild Electronics dumped a bunch in the Mountain View area (near NASA Ames, which also dumped a small amount of TCE) causing a plume in the water table. Problem is when it DOES evaporate up through the soil, it accumulates in buildings.

It will cost over $1B -- did you RTFA? (1)

skidisk (994551) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954290)

The headline is bogus -- reading the article shows the costs to be a billion, which to me means it will be much more and they don't really know how much it will finally cost.

FYI-csb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36954618)

1.1.1 trichloroethane is an outstanding drug to abuse.
Back in the 80's when all the kids were snorting scotchguard... This is what was in it that got them high. Scotchguard only had about half a % of it tho.

You can however find pure 100% 1.1.1 trichloroethane available as a dry cleaning solvent. Now only outside of the united states. Bad for the ozone layer. It's dirt cheap too. $2 would buy enough to last for well over 2 months.

Stimulant, depressant, hallucigenic. It was awesome fantastic stuff. Silver sparkles all up in your brain.
Right up until i blacked out for a couple days. With no memory of what i had done during that time. Yet somehow i seemed to have gone to school and work. nobody ever noticed or at least didnt say anything to me about it.

If i could goto the store and buy some today. I might. Everything will kill you. But this was at least a fun way to kill your braincells.

Re:FYI-csb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36964734)

trichloroethane != trichloroethylene

Instead of huffing, get back to class, you have a high school chemistry test to study for.

This is dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36954820)

These guys need to leave that crap there, take those $90 and put it back into schools, police stations and other useful things.
It's been there for decades. Nothing is going to change if it's cleaned up.

Lovely ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36955916)

After 40+ years the contagins have been spread to all the continents and peoples.

++

Excuse Me, But Why Has Nobody Asked... (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 3 years ago | (#36956274)

...Why they've decided, after how many decades, to start cleaning up *now*? Are they never planning on launching any more missions...like, ever?

Makes me think they plan on completely shutting down any further NASA manned space missions (or even heavy-lift unmanned missions) for the foreseeable future, or maybe permanently.

Do they plan on turning it all over to private enterprise, or do they plan on simply halting all further US space exploration, outside of Earth-orbiting satellites?

If they do, is it simply a government funding/budget issue, or do they fear that possible future expansion of humans into space might threaten their ability to maintain control over every human, and are stopping any future human expansion beyond their ability to maintain control before it has a chance to truly begin?

There are more important questions than what exact compounds they are attempting to clean up.

Strat

Re:Excuse Me, But Why Has Nobody Asked... (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 3 years ago | (#36958030)

A less sinister and conspiratorial reason might simply be that, now that the launch complex isn't seeing a shuttle launch every couple of months, there's a good bit of downtime to do the cleanup without interfering with launch operations.

Re:Excuse Me, But Why Has Nobody Asked... (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 3 years ago | (#36959440)

A less sinister and conspiratorial reason might simply be that, now that the launch complex isn't seeing a shuttle launch every couple of months, there's a good bit of downtime to do the cleanup without interfering with launch operations.

One would think that if future launches were planned that would contaminate the area all over again, where's the logic? It's not like there's a whole new class of "green" rocket propulsion tech out there ready to be used, at least for the Earth-to-LOE leg where heavy lift is necessary. Seems it would be a complete waste of an enormous amount of money and resources in that case.

Most industrial sites aren't cleaned up until the facilities creating the contamination are no longer in operation, like all the EPA Superfund sites. I used to live in the Satellite Beach area in the '70s and early '80s. We're talking an enormous area that's a mix of heavily developed commercial & condominium real estate as well as a lot of swamp in the Indian and Banana River area. Cleanup will be a huge and very, very expensive operation.

Cleaning up the area will cause significant disruption and costs to the surrounding area and economy outside of the cleanup costs & difficulties as well as cause major disturbance to local wildlife and environment. It's not something that one wants to repeat every decade or two.

I'm not necessarily trying to be some sort of conspiracy theorist here, but there are some large questions regarding the logic of timing, long term space program plans, and questions of government waste behind the whole thing that nobody is asking.

Strat

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