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ing as those made without the fear of perjury. Unsworn witnesses, the agency holds, make exaggerated claims. And the state has acted on behalf of the citizens of Highlands. A civil suit has been filed against the former owner of Liberty Waste. \(C.P. Joiner sold the business but not the site to Browninginjunctive action against the former dump operator and holds that the site was not properly closed. It also charges Liberty Waste with more than 5,213 violations and/or days of violation of proper operating procedures. The suit does not address the issue of Class I hazardous substances that plaintiffs filing the toxic-tort claim are in the dump. Jack Carter, an assistant attorney general, has said that the state was close to a settlement until it was decided to review additional information provided by the Center for Rural Studies. Carter said that the attorney general’s office is presently awaiting a closure plan from Joiner or the TWC. Speaking for the Water Commission, Bill Colbert said that he does not know when the agency will be ready with a plan to properly close or cap the landfill. Highlands is an unfortunately unique community. It is known for its acid pit, the Highlands acid pit, one of 26 designated Federal Superfund sites in the state where, according. to the Water Commission’s Bill Colbert, cleanup will begin next month. Ten miles to the north at Crosby, the French Ltd. and Sikes dumpsites are also slated for Superfund cleanup. Ambient air in Highlands, only a few miles north of the marshy plain where 150 years ago, Sam Houston routed Santa Anna, is heavy with petrochemical contamination. It’s a semirural, citybilly community where the environmental cause is a feminist cause because most of the men work in the refineries and chemical plants along the river. The same corporations that have paid for the pickups, tractors and trailerhouses have also, for some 50 years poisoned the soil and water. It’s a sad place where children have innocently paddled in sandy pits laced with some of the most toxic chemicals produced in our industrial state. It’s a nightmare for even the meanest plaintiffs’ attorney determined to establish causation. Who did it? Stand on the high bank, some 30 feet above the brown San Jacinto at the point where it comes closest to Crosby-Lynchburg Road and look south toward the Monument, then southwest, then west, at the stacks, separators, and cracking units that make the far horizon. Read the manifests, the driver’s trip-tickets and Gloria Chaplin’s cancer list. Talk to the mother of 11year-old Shanna Rand whose bi-weekly absences from Highlands Elementary School are excused so that she can travel to M.D. Anderson Hospital where she is being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She will tell you that her daughter is doing fine right now. But she just doesn’t know about her future. Few people know and they cannot tell what went into the making of one rich American city. The city of Rose, Texas, is one of the largest and richest in America. Its refineries, its chemical plants, its technological vvonderworks have enriched and enlarged it beyond the statistics of most American cities. . . . Once it was a plant town near the Thicket and near the Gulf, a filled-in swampland of frame houses with the smell of natural gas hanging over it. William Goyen, Come the Restorer Port Arthur WHEN BODIE PRYOR came to Port Arthur from Columbia University in 1936 the city had already known one great economic boom. The Gulf and Texas Companies had built huge refineries here. Young men from rural south Louisiana and East Texas were drawn to the city and the prospect of earning, for the first time, a livable, union wage. The town was still eleven years from the Texas City disaster that would portend the awful risk that comes with industrial growth. And another economic boom was about to begin. In the early ’40s the federal government selected Port Neches, a small community on the Neches River, as the site of the world’s largest synthetic rubber plant, a technological wonderwork that would help provide war material and change forever the economic and natural climate of these Neches River communities. Pryor started with Texaco, then in 1942 joined B.F. Goodrich, the company that would operate the government-owned plant. He worked at Goodrich as a process control engineer for three years until he was promoted to technical manager. Synthetic rubber manufacturing in 1942 was an exotic technology hurried along by the demands of the nation’s war effort. The butadiene gas and styrene that were mixed in reactor vessels to create synthetic rubber didn’t always behave as predicted. Dangerous and unexpected byproducts were sometimes created. One such product was butadiene peroxide, a chemical so volatile that stirring or tapping could cause it to explode. Like the ammonium nitrate that exploded in the hold of the French freighter Grandcamp, berthed at Texas City Monsanto slip on April 17 forty years ago, under certain conditions butadiene would generate intense heat and spontaneously explode by simply reacting upon itself. Pryor tells of huge containment vessels filled with undisturbed butadiene peroxide reaching temperatures so high that paint would peel in sheets from the vessel’s steel walls. The problem was solved in 1947 by a team of chemists from Johns Hopkins University who discovered a chemical additive that calmed the volatile substance. Thirty years later, in the course of his private toxocological research, Bodie Pryor determined that it was butadiene peroxide that caused the chronic lymphatic leukemia with which he has now lived for ten years. Pryor was a company man in a company town. A dedicated Lions Clubber, member of local management for Texaco, then Goodrich, then Gulf, Pryor was a quiet middle-class success in go-along-to-get-along Port Arthur. Not even in 1973, when he discovered that he had kidney cancer, did Pryor suspect that his illness had been caused by the chemicals that he had known for more than 30 years. And at the time, Pryor was working as an industrial hygienist at the Gulf Oil Chemical plant in Orange, responsible for monitoring workers’ exposure to harmful substances. Not even in 1976, when in a moment of revelation Pryor recognized that he had leukemia, did he relate his illness to the workplace. Pryor decided that no one, outside of his family, would know of his leukemia. Having survived the loss of one kidney and ‘only a few years from retirement he decided to continue his work at Gulf Chemical and the regular trips to the Houston Diagnostic Clinic where his condition was being monitored. Living With Leukemia A ‘Company Man’ Puts the Chemical Industry on Trial By Louis Dubose THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11