Kevin R. McCarthy for Jefferson County Commissioner

Why Won’t Anyone Do Any Research?

As a County Commissioner (or any other job elected or otherwise),  I would do my own research.  This particular example is for the VX waste shipments into our area.  Why won’t the media take a few minutes to explain this in plain language?  ( Heck, I’ve even offered to do it for them, I am a Chemistry teacher.)

The VX gas has already been destroyed.  The plant here is destroying the caustic waste created by the destruction process.  That’s the same stuff in those big containers off Pure Atlantic Road labeled ‘caustic’.

Anyway, there is less than 20 parts per billion VX residue in the waste water.  That level (equal to 7 people in the entire US population) is considered safe enough to drink by the US Army.  The caustic would kill you, but the VX residue won’t.

Toxins toxicity is measured by LD50… the dose that would be lethal to 50% of the people affected.  The LD50 for VX (as a liquid) for a 160 lbs man is 10 milligrams.  If a 160 pound man drank 10 milligrams of VX liquid, he has a 50% chance of dying.

At 20 parts per billion, you would have to drink 500,000 milligrams of the waste water to get a lethal dose.  That’s 500 g or about a pound of waste.  Try drinking a pound of Drano.

The Lethal Dose for airborne VX gas is 30 mg*min / m^3.  What this means is that, the concentration of the gas in the air times the number of minutes that you are in that concentration equals 30.  That is lethal to 50% of the population.  So if you stand in a place that has 30mg of gas per cubic meter (about 30 cubic feet) for 1 minute, you would have a 50% chance of dying.  If the concentration was 1 mg/m^3 and you were in that for 30 minutes, again, you would have a 50% chance of dying.

For the record,  less than  .09 m*min/m^3 will cause a runny nose in 50% of the population.  I guess we’ll never know about that.

Now, consider where the incineration plant is, the population of the area and how much residue would have to become a gas to be dangerous to the Port Arthur area.   With the winds in our area and the distances involved, any meaningful buildup of VX gas would be so non-concentrated as to be undetectable.

This entire discussion is ridiculous.  There are two really sad parts about this.  The first is that no one has actually tried to explain the process so that people will understand what is going on.  The other sad part is that many people, in spite of the science, won’t believe it anyway.

If I think there’s a problem with something coming into my county, I’ll be the first to jump on it.  But I’ll also do my own research.

Look, this area needs any economy boost we can get just to pay off our dang taxes.


December 10, 2007 Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Politics | 5 Comments