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1960’s: During the 1950s and 1960s Michigan Chemical Corporation grew into a complex of buildings and storages tanks that sprawled across the west side of the St. Louis peninsula. The company expanded out to Washington Street (M-46) and continued to pump millions of dollars into the area’s economy.
1970’s: By 1970, one of Velsicol Chemical Company’s significant products was a fire retardant labeled Firemaster. It contained a chemical compound called PBB – not to be consumed by man or beast. The company also produced Nutrimaster, a supplemental cattle feed. In 1973 a tragic mix-up occurred in the company’s shipping department that resulted in wide-spread concern for the health of citizens throughout the state.
1980’s: In 1982, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made a deal with Velsicol. The company would pay $38 million and be absolved of future responsibility for the chemical contamination in St. Louis. The settlement was regarded as a very favorable one by the DNR.
both noted that the speed of cleanup will be dependent on the federal dollars released each year to continue.
But Jane Keon, chairman of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force, is thrilled. She helped begin the group in 1998 to formally push for a cleanup, and the group has continually met with city, DEQ and EPA officials since.
She laughs at the question: "Why am I still involved? I don't know. I don't like science; I don't like bureaucracy and politics and the law, but I guess it's just persistence. I want to see it through the end. I want to see it cleaned up."
She and others say the city -- a place enjoyed for its quiet and its summer blues festival -- can no longer be defined by contamination. People are out of patience. And it comes down to right and wrong