Love It or Hate It: Toxic waste

by Patty Templeton

Love ItThank ye, gods of industry, for toxic waste. Without your neon ooze, the state of American comics and horror wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. We wouldn’t have mutagenic plot points!

Do you want a world without Alan Moore’s Joker? A vat of chemicals creates the most psychopathic supervillain in comic book history. We can even go with good guys here, the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Sure, they got sucked-up by Michael Bay, but TMNT have a long history of defending the streets from petty criminals, evil overlords, and space invaders through cartoons, live-action films, pop music, and comics.

There is a trope – “toxic waste can do anything.” It sure as heck birthed midnight movie classic “The Toxic Avenger.” Poisonous, erosive – and transformative, hazardous waste has given us the horror comedy “8 Legged Freaks,” the Troma apocalypse of “Class of Nuke ’Em High,” and the near destruction of Springfield by nuclear plant waste in the “Simpson’s Movie.”

That’s not even getting into most of the United Nations Environment Programme’s 11 key toxic substances. “Arsenic and Old Lace,” anyone? Would “Goodnight, Irene,” sound as good if it wasn’t sung by a man named Lead Belly? Would “Fight Club” be as interesting without medical waste? Without asbestos, we’d miss out on tension in every episode of “Property Brothers.”

Those are all totally worth the river spills, immune diseases, contaminated drinking water, birth defects, brain damage, and cancer – right?

– Patty TempletonHate itWell, no doy. How could you not hate toxic sewage and how it finds its way into the water we (and other fellow animals) drink, killing the fish that live in it, poisoning everything it touches?

Though that’s enough to hate right there – and is all rather obvious (maybe?) – what I hate most about toxic sewage are the corporations or other pass-on-the-externalities entities that profit from manufacturing and then leave people, animals, and the environment with a deadly and costly mess.

For the past seven years, I have lived by rivers that are the lifeblood of their communities – the Animas (I think we all know what happened there) and the Housatonic, which runs through western Massachusetts and Connecticut and has been polluted with PCBs for decades thanks to General Electric, which has been ever so sluggish in its efforts to clean up the mess it made and profited from. The victims of pollution like this are often at a major disadvantage to the rich and powerful.

The time is near when a this-is-not-normal administration seems rather antsy to roll back the progress we have made as a country in almost every conceivable way: civil and human rights, health care, foreign affairs, etc. etc., and, yes, environmental protection. Hating toxic sewage, I’m afraid, is no longer something we all can agree on (sad!). I’d say it’s time to start really hating it.

– David Holub


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