Part ten of the MER documentary series, A Sense of Place. Program is titled “Water: Words and Music.” Program profiles a meeting on June 15, 1973 regarding asbestos fibers found in Lake Superior.
Segments include interviews with residents; readings; writing commentary; scientist and researcher perspectives; and music elements. .
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
To the people of three states and two countries who live along a Shoreline Lake Superior is a living presence more than any other feature of the landscape natural or man-made the big lake dominates Consciousness and creates mood. It is more than resource. It is in always Source on June 15th, 1973. The people most vitally concerned with Lake Superior and others some of whom seemed unconcerned learned that the clear cold Waters of their Lake had been infiltrated by mineral fibers identified as asbestos.A sense of place a documentary series, which looks at regions and regionalism in the state of Minnesota produced by Minnesota educational radio under a grant from the Minnesota Humanities commission. This program is called water Words and Music.Shock anger charge counter-charge words spoken and written about Lake Superior about pollution about health about how officials respond to critical situations in their communities. Some of the words you'll hear in this program were written about the Water Crisis which follows the revelations of June 15th. 1973, others are drawn from a play dealing with a similar situation occurring in a coastal town in Norway in the mid-1800s still others are the efforts of researchers biologists magazine writers. from your rajat health by Renee dubow life is an adventure in a world where nothing is static. We're unpredictable and Ellen just should have been constitute dangers that must be overcome often blindly and at Great cost when man himself like The Sorcerer's Apprentice has set in motion forces that are potentially destructive. I may someday escapists control, every manifestation of existence is a response to stimuli and challenges Each of which constitutes a threat. If not adequately dealt with the very process of living is a continual interplay between the individual and his environment off and taking the form of a struggle resulting in injury or disease. From Henrik ibsen's drama and enemy of the people. Well now the town will have something new to talk about I can tell you something. Just let them come saying as usual that it is all fancy and a crazy man's imagination, but they will be careful what they say this time. I can tell you time and you shall know all about it. If only I had Peter here now. It just shows how we men can go about forming our judgments when in reality. We are as blind as any moles that our town is a healthy spot quite an unusually healthy spot in the fact a place that deserves to be recommended in the warmest possible manner. Blinded any moles. Are you driving at Doctor? Isn't it? The universal opinion that our town is a healthy spot quite an unusually healthy spot in the fact a place that deserves to be recommended in the warmest possible manner either for invalids are for people who are well and praising it. I have written and Unwritten both in the messenger and and pamphlet and the bads we have called them the main artery of the town's lifeblood the nerve center of our town and the devil knows what else the town's pulsating heart was the expression. I used once on an important occasion quite so Well, do you know what they really are these great Splendid much, praise bad that it cost so much money. Do you know what they are know, what are they? What are they the whole place is a pesthouse the whole establishment the greatest possible danger to the public health all the nastiness further up the river all that stinking filth is infecting the water in the conduit pipe leading to the reservoir and the same person filthy poison oozes out on the shore 2 from the Duluth Herald Friday, June 15th 1973 A tight lid of secrecy was clamped today on Federal and State officials investigating discovery of an asbestos like mineral in Lake Superior rats were put on all Parties By Us judge miles Lord who is hearing a suit involving the federal government and Reserve mining company over alleged pollution of the lake from reserves Technic plant at Silver Bay in Duluth this morning for a meeting of the Minnesota State Board of Health. Dr. Warren Lawson executive director of the State Department of Health said Federal water studies of Dallas water supply have revealed the presence of minerals that are chemically related to asbestos. He says he does not believe any one yet knows however, whether the minerals have the same physical characteristics as asbestos, whether they are fibrous in nature or if the presence of the mineral hydrated silica is necessarily related to reserves discharges. He said a meeting of federal and state officials has been called for Monday and Governor Wendell Anderson's office on the subject. I guess everybody is trying to decide what the significance of the findings is Ted Lawson. The fact is that nobody knows what the significance is. He says Health Data is available on the problems asbestos causes when inhaled it is said to be cancer-producing, but there is no no data available on what problems it causes when ingested. Saint Paul Dispatch, June 15th, 1973 mayor of Duluth said today that the report of the asbestos related materials in the Duluth drinking water did not surprise him and did not unduly alarm him. He said that he had heard about these reports on Lake Superior Water and on Duluth drinking water earlier and the doctor Lawson statement on it did not attach any great significance to it. May or boo said I stand on dr. Lawson statement in this matter. He is the expert we have to be calm about this matter last month. We had the Mercury scare in Duluth. Everyone was in a panic about Mercury and then it develop there is nothing to it. We have to go slow on this report boo then said that the information about the asbestos like chemicals was introduced in the reserve mining court case in federal court in Minneapolis as evidence to strengthen the PCH case against Reserve Edward Schmidt assistant to the president of Reserve said today, it is unfortunate that this unfounded charges been made public without testing its validity Reserve will do everything in its power to see that the public learns the truth as quickly as possible. an enemy of the people I have learned him the school of life and experience that moderation is the most valuable virtual citizen can possess in Norwood enable a man to be a both service to the community. I would therefore suggest to our esteemed fellow citizen was called this meeting that he should serve to keep strictly within the bounds of moderation three. Cheers for the moderation Society, please. Does anyone wish to make any remarks address the meeting? In consideration of the close relationship in which as you all know, I stand to the present medical officer of the baths. I should have preferred not to speak this evening, but my official position with regard to the baths and my solicitude for the vital interests of the Town compel me to bring forward a motion. I venture to presume that there is not a single one of our citizens present who considers it desirable that unreliable and exaggerated accounts of the sanitary condition of the Babs and the town should be spread abroad. Duluth News Tribune Saturday, June 30th, 1973 doctor Irving JC Lacoste head of environmental Sciences laboratory of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York was to arrive in Duluth early today to hit a team making the tail studies of the situation. He had originally planned to spend 8 weeks, but you asked judge Myles Lord has ordered the work completed in 2 weeks Francis Mill head of the Chicago regional office of the EPA said Monday that reports that the work could be done in two weeks work quotes clearly optimistic unquote dr. Silich office to study the tissues of cancer victims would consume to lose water and compare them with tissues of those who did not Saturday review Society March 1973 while the effects of asbestos-related diseases are in themselves fearful the prospect of the toll they may take in Manville New Jersey in the near future is even more. So in the next few years positions webstudy, the problem predict. The number of deaths resulting from asbestos-related diseases can be expected to reach near epidemic proportions. This is so because the gestation. For asbestosis and mesothelioma ranges between 20 and 40 years hence workers who joined the plant in the late 1930s and 1940s are just now beginning to suffer the consequences a study of 689 Johns Manville employees. That was released May 1972 show that out of 70 men and women who had worked at least 20 years in the plants formerly very dusty text on division some 24 of them or 34% at died. This death rate is nearly triple that of a similar group in the general population. I was told by dr. Irving JC look up director of the environmental Sciences laboratory at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and the scientist who conducted the study the next 5 or 10 years are going to be rough in Manville because a lot of people are going to be dying and so far no one knows what to do about it. Doctor silicone pads. What is tragic is that this is a man-made disease. It is not a visitation from heaven. It was preventable the serious situation that now exists is a record of failure on the part of us all scientist industry and governmental Authority and Industry is correct in my opinion in pointing out that what we're seeing now is a result of our mistakes in the past. Having said this I would urge the most intense efforts to ensure that we do not continue to make these mistakes too many men and women have died of our blunders already. from the Duluth News Tribune, June 30th 1973 Treatment of water used in manufacturing products involving asbestos is a simple matter of using settling ponds and trucking away deposited effluence according to an official of a major minor and Miller of the material what are used in manufacturing asbestos product goes into settling basins and is treated for pH and index of acidity. And sometimes is chlorinated said e m thinner director of environmental Affairs for Johns Manville Corporation, Denver. In all plants spinner said damn maintains a very intensive hygiene program. All conditions are monitored including dust noise and fumes a close check is also kept on Workers Health Saturday review March 1973 product to seal a cop and other medical researchers stressed Health factors that the labor department hearing asbestos industry spokesman emphasized economic considerations Henry VIII Marino, Johns, Manville senior operating vice-president asserted that to achieve a to fiber count level in all of it as best as factories would cost about 12 million dollars in capital expenditures plus some five million dollars in additional operating expenses each year. This would mean you said that the company would simply have to close down the dusty your operations in the Manville plant and fire 800 employee all but killing off the economic life of the town. Duluth News Tribune June 19th, 1973 irate residents of Silver Bay and Beaver Bay met with the combined Village councils of each Community Monday night in the Silver Bay Municipal Building to discuss the alleged contamination of Lake Superior Water by asbestos fibers a standing-room-only crowd of about 60 persons, Jam the small conference room while many others looking from the hallway and still others. Over-the-shoulder the councilman from the doorway of an adjoining room. The question-and-answer session preceded a regular council meeting on consumed about 1 and 1/2 hours. Wayne Johnson attorney for The Villages of Silver Bay and Beaver Bay Breeze those in attendance on a meeting held Sunday in Duluth at the national water quality. Laboratory Johnson said he feels the public has been subjected to unnecessary alarm. I'm not stopping at the possible Hazard, but I think the alarm was sounded prematurely for such explosive information. He said expert throughout the country have studied the water for depositions in the suit against Reserve mining company and none has mentioned finding asbestos. One-man Dr. Irving Jay's Sylacauga finds asbestos in a preliminary study and with one word cancer. He panics the citizens Johnson said according to Johnson. The electrifying is a political Ploy by the Environmental Protection Agency to Scuttle the reserve mine and trial and many citizens express the same belief. The majority of residents attending seem to be more concerned about the effect on local tourism than the actual possibility of contamination several complained that officials involved are responsible for releasing the information prematurely and fully 1/2 hour with bent turn lashing the news media for causing a panic. One older man killed all officials involved should be relieved of their jobs because they have done irreparable damage to the North Shore through their statements. Saturday review March 1973 Why throughout the fifties and sixties did men and women continue to work in the plant of conditions were so hazardous? The answer would seem to have as much to do with psychology as with economics. Chester wiskowski, a 41 year old machinist and Union shop steward at the plant says it's funny. But the only people who seem scared of this stuff come from outside the community. Taurus Koski who has worked at the plant since he was 18, his job is a way of life that he is not about to give up just because of a few scary stories in the Press. Duluth Harold June 22 1973 restaurants are still putting tap water on the table and most people are still drinking it with some exceptions a spot survey of Duluth eating places in bars shows local patrons don't appear too concerned about recently disclosed findings of asbestos fiber material in the city's drinking water some tourist. However, have expressed fear of the water drawn from Lake Superior even to the point of considering it poisonous, but in general it's business as usual as typified by this comment by Joseph Asahi Junior operator of the Pickwick there has been no change. It's like cigarettes. There's a warning on the package that cigarettes may be harmful to your health, but people still smoke them. We had one woman customer who said she wouldn't drink the water but ordered a cup of coffee, which is made from the same water. a letter to the editor from the Duluth News Tribune Monday, June 25th 1973 I don't know about you, but ever since the asbestos bombshell fell I've been doing a lot of soul-searching that Lake out there. My lake is in trouble and I'm heartbroken. Whoever dream such a nightmarish dream. How could it happen? Well, the results aren't in on the test, but nevertheless we are all asking questions, aren't we and who is guilty? Well, I for one I voted for that taconite Amendment years ago. Now the ramifications are partly my responsibility. But most of all I failed to vigorously support the save Lake Superior Association. How long have they been out there? Like John crying in the wilderness asking questions demanding on land disposal how long and so I would like to make public my sincere apologies. I'm sorry save Lake Superior Association I'm sorry, you babies and children who are drinking bottled water and last but not least. I am so sorry God. What have I done to this? Sweet Oasis? You have given me Connie sundquist Duluth. from an editorial in the Duluth News Tribune Sunday, June 17th on the other hand is sober-minded is the public has been throughout this long controversy. It seems important that the public continue to view this problem is rationally as possible to close Reserve immediately would simply add another major problem to the one we already have it would mean instant unemployment for about 3,200 workers in Silver Bay in bed with the predictable effects for their families. An enemy of the people. What do you think of that doctor? Don't you think it's high time? We start a little life into all this slackness and vacillation and cowardice. Are you referring to ask Alexa? Yes, I am. One of those fellows were floundering in a bog decent enough fellow the way may be otherwise and most of the people here are in just the same case see-sawing and edging first to one side and then do the other Soul overcome with caution and scruple that they never dared to take any decided. Skip yes, but it seemed to me so thoroughly well-intentioned. There is one thing I esteem higher than that and that is for a man to be self-reliant and sure of himself. I think you are perfectly right there. That is why I want to seize this opportunity and try if I can to put a little gorilla tea and he's well-intentioned people for once. The idol of authority must be shattered in this town is gross and inexcusable blunder about the water. Supply must be brought home to the mind of every Municipal voter. Duluth News Tribune Thursday, June 28th, 1973 a letter to the editor sir. You should expose the pollution of beautiful Lake Superior which belongs to all of us and the unafraid exactly like the Press which exposed the Watergate. We are helpless by ourselves and we just like very much just sit back and do nothing. But our voice is lost in the wilderness when the Press really tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God does not only the pollution of a lake that bothers us but to think that they would spoil this beautiful Lake that God gave to all of us with that black crud when it was not necessary. Whoever gave them the permission in the first place are politicians on would have to be out of his mind to ever think of such a thing. I am not prejudiced to the industry. But to think that they have done things that none of us would think of doing to this great lake of ours just for the gold for heaven sakes. Let's do something and expose the whole matter so that we can at least shame them into doing something about it and not put it off because they say it will cut employment. I was born and raised in the area. I see makes me sick and weak misanthropic an enemy of the people. We shall proceed with the greatest moderation doctor of moderation is always my aim. It is the greatest virtue in the citizen. At least I think so it is a well-known characteristic of yours. Mr. Ass looks it I think I me pride myself on that and this matter of the water supply is of the greatest importance to us more reason the bass promise to be a regular gold mine for the title loan make a living out of them. Especially those of us Warehouse holders. That is why we will back up the project as strongly as possible. And as I am in prison chairman of the household has Association local Secretary of the Temperance Society. You know sir, I suppose that I am a worker in the temperance cause of course, of course, you can understand that I come into contact with a great many people and is I have the reputation of a Temperance and law-abiding citizen like yourself. I have a certain influence in the Tower of Power if I may be allowed to say so I know that quite well, mr. Ass look said she would be necessary testimonial. Some kind of address of tanks from the townsman for your share in the matter of such importance to the community. I need scarcely say that it would have been drawn up with the greatest regard to moderate. It was not to offend the authorities who after all have the reins in their hands if we pay strict attention to that no one can take it to me. So I should think even supposing they didn't like it. There must be no discourtesy to the authorities. There's no use falling foul of those upon whom our welfare so closely depends. I have done that tonight. I'm no good ever comes up, but no one can take exception to a reasonable and Frank expression of a citizen's views. I can't tell you how extremely pleased I am to find such Hardee's support among my fellow citizens. I'm delighted delighted know you will take a small glass of Sherry. Mirage of Health by Renee to go directly or indirectly the various forms of art reflect the strivings the struggles and the sufferings of mankind the state of health and the ills of a society are recorded not only in the writings of its Physicians and Scholars, but also in the themes and moods of its artists and Poets. Excerpts from The Mirage of Hills by Renee Du Bois published by Harper brothers and the Henrik Ibsen drama and enemy of the people from Norwegian State Publications. Oslo music from Handel's the water music by the bath Symphony Orchestra an angel recording readers were or in Bergen Tom amundsen Carol Ann home and I'm Claudia Deli. A sense of place was written and produced by Claudia daily for Minnesota educational radio under a grant from the Minnesota Humanities commission engineering by Glenn Owen.