On 26 January 1988, twenty-one cars from a Union Pacific freight train derailed near the dioxin contaminated ghost town of Times Beach, Missouri (US). Some of the cars plunged off a forty-foot trestle and onto the banks of the Meremec River. A fire ensued. Downwind from the smoke, Washington University’s Tyson Research Center was evacuated because one of the derailed cars contained the residue of toluene diisocyanate (TDI), a toxic substance. These were the same tracks used to transport nuclear waste from the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident to a storage depot in Idaho.
Due to activist and public pressure the TMI trains were re-routed off of the faulty tracks, but ultimately not stopped.
With the tragic situation of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan still unfolding, the German and Italian governments are rejecting nuclear power.
Additionally, Times Beach in the 1990s saw many protests and much citizen participation to stop a waste incinerator that was to be built in order to burn dioxin-contaminated soil (thereby releasing dioxin into the air). The government ignored the outcry of the people and built the incinerator.
Orin Langelle, GJEP’s Co-director/Strategist, is currently working on a book of four decades of his concerned photography. From mid-June to mid-July Langelle is working on his book as an artist in residence at the Blue Mountain Center in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.