From: REMOVE_THISdwilkins@means.net (Don Wilkins)
Subject: Re: Lawyers+Metals in the news...
Date: 30 Oct 1999
On Sat, 30 Oct 1999 01:23:30 -0500, Doug Jackson
> The military wants lead-free bullets so that they avoid polluting their
>gunnery ranges with lead and thus avoid harming wildlife on the ranges.
>Makes very good political sense for the military, actually.
> Not much different than the lead-free (steel) birdshot loads that
>hunters have been required to use in many (most?) states since the late
I believe this is true in most states for shooting migratory
waterfowl. In MN where I now live lead loads are still legal for
non-waterfowl. So if it is a pheasant out in a cornfield you can use
up your lead loads but if it is a goose you can not. Go figure.
A similar law apparently went into action this year in Canada (at
least in Manitoba). The difference is that in MN if you get checked by
a game warden he/she will probably check your ammo. None of the local
yokels here who hunted snow geese in Canada this year had the ammo
check. They counted the birds but didn't look to see what you were
carrying for shot.
Many years ago as a poor graduate student I analyzed some ducks for
lead content for a program in another department studying this topic.
It was an introduction to cheating on income tax as well as an
interesting analysis. My research director was independently wealthy.
He owned a couple businesses which did well enough so his university
salary didn't pay his income tax.
He was originally approached to do the analysis and gave me the
project. He said "You report the total as income, deduct the tax and
we will split the balance. If I report it the government will get
most of it" That was found money for a hand to mouth graduate student.
It turned out that about 13% of the migratory ducks in the Mississippi
flyway had rather large amounts of lead in their bones. The shot of
course remains in the gizzard and takes part in the food grinding.
It was a very long time after that study that anything was done about
> Here at the UT Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab one of our grad
>students is testing the radiation shielding effectiveness of a non-toxic
>Tungsten-polymer combination that has about the same density as lead:
>apparently the stuff was originally developed for the Army as a
>replacement for lead in bullets. The National Labs want to use it to
>replace lead in gloves that are used to handle radioactive materials:
>they want to avoid contaminating chemically toxic stuff such as lead
> Sound silly? The problem is that it is far more expensive to dispose
>of "mixed waste" (radioactive waste that also contains chemical toxins)
>than it is to dispose of stuff that is radioactive but not chemically
> In most cases the chemical toxicities of "mild" poisons such as lead
>and other heavy metals are far more dangerous than the radioactivity
>found in most "mixed" wastes. Unfortunately, because of political
>pressure from anti-nuclear groups that create hysteria and promote
>ignorance about nuclear issues, there are few places in the US that
>accept radioactive waste and even fewer sites that accept "mixed waste,"
>so radioactive waste disposal is far more expensive than it should be.
It is not only the "anti_nuclear groups" that have changed the way
chemicals are treated.
When I was a graduate student we would have an annual lab cleanup
where we disposed of toxic and hazardous chemicals. We would gather up
all of this stuff on a weekend and take it out to the local landfill
where it was pitched over the bank. We always saved the sodium and
potassium metal to the last so no one would miss the fireworks when we
launched the stuff out into the pond.
When I went on to what was at times considered gainful employment I
moved from the midwest to upstate New York. When I first arrived I
couldn't understand why there were no homes on the rivers. That was
desirable property where I came from but it soon became apparent that
they were not only open sewage ditches but also chemical disposal
When I first started working I had a lab right on a riverbank.
Beautiful view. I soon learned that if I dumped a highly colored
chemical into the sink with the water running and then ran like hell
over to the bank I could see the effluent come out a pipe a few feet
down the slope.
On occasion I would see the "Safety Engineer" pull in to the parking
lot and pitch some obnoxious chemical far out into the river.
Things have changed and although there is some panic overkill
something had to be done.
At the time I retired when we ordered a chemical we tried to order no
more than we needed. In most cases it costs more to dispose of the
excess than the cost of the original product. If you needed 10 grams
and 100 grams was almost the same price you bought the 10 grams if
that would do the job. Years ago you picked the large economy package.