The Monitor from McAllen, Texas on January 25, 2004 · 54
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The Monitor from McAllen, Texas · 54

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McAllen, Texas
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Sunday, January 25, 2004
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54
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T NAT10MME1VS Sunday. January 25. 2004 ThE M0MT0R. McA:;en. Texas 3F Great molasses flood of 1919 remembered in exhibit By B i pas ha Ray The Associated Press BOSTON Danny O'Brien looked at a photograph of firefighters knee-deep in molasses trying to rescue people trapped in a collapsed firehouse. and remembered his grandfather's tales of stickyhorror. "Those stories were something ... horses stuck in this sea of molasses, a lot of cars, people stuck, houses smashed to pieces," said O'Brien, looking through a Boston Public Library exhibit commemorating the 85th anniversary of Boston's Great Molasses Flood, which killed 21 people and injured 150. His grandfather lived in tht city's North End, where on Jan. 15, 1919, a gigantic steel vat exploded, spewing 2.3 million gallons of molten molasses. Thirty-foot waves of gooey liquid plowed through the streets, catching men, women, horses and vermin in its sticky flow, crushing freight cars, wagons and automobiles and reducing entire buildings to broken planks of wood. "They were smelling it for years after that," said O'Brien, whose grandfather volunteered to help with the months-long cleanup. The exhibit Molasses Flood: The 1919 North End Disaster, contains photographs and newspaper accounts of the devastating flood that paved the way for more stringent construction safety standards across the nation. It runs until the end of January. The tank, 50 feet high and 240 feet around, was built in 1915, just as the demand for molasses used to produce industrial alcohol for ammunition as well as rum was skyrocketing at the peak of World War I. Its site on the waterfront was convenient for delivery ships . coming from Cuba, Puerto Rico and the West Indies. But the tank, built in a hurry with faulty design, was at the edge of the city's most densely-populated neighborhood, the North End, where politically-inactive Italian immigrants had little clout, said Stephen Puleo, the author of Dark Tide, a book about the flood released in September. The tank leaked constantly, worrying employees and neighbors. But in their rush to keep up with demand, company officials just repainted the tank in the same color as the leaking molasses. In 1919 the war had just Ui' . M m-. -tl ended and Prohibition was looming. Purity Distilling, wanting to make a last batch of alcohol before it was banned, dumped a large shipment of molasses into the tank on Jan. 14, filling it to near capacity. Warm molasses in the tank mixed with cold molasses from the new shipment, starting fermentation and creating gases that pushed on the tank's weak walls, according to Puleo's book. Just after noon" the next day, nearby workers and neighbors heard a deep rumble. "A muffled roar burst suddenly upon the air," read a Boston Herald story displayed in the library exhibit. "Mingled with the roar was the clangor of steel against steel and the clash of rending wood. "Spurting high into the air and in far reaching spread, were great ribbons of thick-brown fluid. The huge tossing geyser of molasses settled to be-plaster the outer walk of the neighborhood outside the destroying force of the explosion, sink into big pools on the flat roofs and to inundate in an adhesive, the streets, alleys and debris," read the newspaper account. A one-ton piece of steel from the vat flew into a trestle of elevated railroad tracks, causing the tracks to buckle. Two children collecting firewood and dripping molasses near the tank disappeared under the fast-spreading liquid. Farmed salmon industry to face lawsuit over chemicals in fish By Terence Chea The Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO The farmed salmon industry faces legal action in California for failing to warn consumers that the fish contain what environmental groups say are potentially dangerous levels of cancer-causing chemicals. The Environmental Working Group and the Center for Environmental Health filed notice last week of their intent to sue 50 salmon farms, fish procesr sors and grocery chains under a California anti-toxics law. "Our goal is to challenge them to change their practices so their fish is safe to eat," said Michael Green, executive director for the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health. The potential lawsuit comes after a major study published " earlier this month in the journal Science found that farm-raised salmon contains significantly more contaminants than salmon caught in the wild because of PCBs, polychlori-nated biphenyls, in feed. It recommended that farmers change fish feed and urged consumers to buy wild salmon. The farmed salmon industry disputes the conclusions, citing experts who say the benefits outweigh the risks of eating farmed salmon. "(Consumers) will be doing themselves and their families a great disservice if they stop eating farmed salmon," said Alex Trent, executive director of the trade group Salmon of the Americas. He noted that farmed salmon, a source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, is much cheaper than wild salmon and can be purchased year-round. Under Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, companies are required to notify consumers if their products contain hazardous levels of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. State law requires private groups to first file notice of their intent to sue to give the state attorney general and other prosecutors 60 days to decide whether to join or take over the lawsuit. Defendants named include major U.S. grocery chains such as Safeway Inc., Kroger Co., Albertsons Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. and farmed salmon producers in Canada and Europe. TTTTNTA TXT Information You Can Bank On Every Thursday in Hie Monitor The force of the molasses ripped a firehouse from its foundation, sending the second floor crashing into the first and trapping a stonecutter and several firefighters underneath. One drowned. The property damage, including a leveled commerc ial warehouse yard, was easily more than SI million. In the lawsuit that followed a combination of 1 19 separate legal claims Purity's parent company, United States Industrial Alcohol Co., claimed Italian anarchists from the neighborhood had blown up the tank with dynamite. That tactic failed. US1A ended up paying almost 5650,000 to settle the claims. Considered enormous at the time, the settlement forced fast-flourishing industries in Boston to impose stricter safety standards, and the flood's cause and effects contributed to a politically active Italian-American voice. "Citizenship shortly after the File PhotoThe Associated Press trial in the North End soared,'' Puleo said. "The flood was a catalyst for that. They realized they needed to take an active role in what was happening in their neighborhood." The Boston Building Department tightened its regulations after the flood, including requiring engineers and archi- Josh Reynolds Trie Assooa:ea P'na Above, Julie Goetze of. Cambridge, Mass. looks at a photo exhibit at the Boston Public Library in Boston on Monday commemorating the 85th anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood, which killed 21 people and injured 150. A gigantic steel vat ot molten molasses exploded in Boston's North End. on Jan. 15. 191S, which spewed out 2.3 million gallons of :he sticky substance. Left, this aerial view shows the site of the molasses storage tank explosion in the section of Commercial St. between Copps Hill and the playground of North End Park in Boston, Mass., Jan. 15, 1919. The explosion of the steel vat, ninety feet In diameter and fifty-two feet in height, caused 2.2 million gallons of molasses to flood the area, killing 21 people and injuring 150. In the background is the Navy Yard in Charlestown. tects to sign stamped drawings and new engineering certification laws that eventually became standard across the country. Julie Goetze, 66, of Cambridge, stared in wonder at the library exhibit's pictures. "What a stickv mess. Can vou imagine a tidal wave like that bearing down on you or wading in all that?" she said. "It was a disaster, an odd one, a fascinating one, but a horrible disaster.' On the et: Boston Public Library: www.bpl.org r l V.J' J1 ti si i ltrfjofeF print $4309 G 204 N. 10th St., McAllen, TX Loss of up to body weight. 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