In 1988 a catastrophe of mythical proportions shook the Las Vegas Valley. Miniaturized for home viewing against the epic grand scale of the Las Vegas desert floor, massive explosions at an aerospace refinery erupted hundreds of feet into the air. Towering dirt skyscrapers spontaneously sprung to life, conjured by the explosive power of human magic and invention. Shock waves rippled outwards. People far outside the range of the factory going about their daily lives completely oblivious to the danger were knocked flying off their feet. A commercial jet flying into Las Vegas felt the reverberations in the sky.
The largest explosion registered a 3.5 on the Richter scale and had the force of a 1 kiloton nuclear blast. Or about 1.5 million pounds of TNT. Most employees had plenty of warning to get out, but two stayed too long and were killed. One was described as being transfixed, standing in place staring at the flames and destruction until the first explosion struck. He wasn’t the only one described as being struck dumb by the fiery course of events.
For him the investigation would be tragically cut short, but it would carry on without him. The public would sit in shocked silence for thirteen days for news of what had occurred. No one was allowed on the site, not even PEPCON personnel.
But this was no Vegas magic show, the public deserved answers to this spectacular industrial catastrophe.
Not to say that Las Vegas had not already been home to the spectacular. The glitzy glamour of the Vegas strip had long stood juxtaposed against the cold steel technological wonder of the U.S. military installations housed in the surrounding territory. Top secret aeronautics and engineering had long held a special place in Nevada. Vegas was a hidden jewel residing in a desert repose of bright lights, exotic flavors, the best curves in the world, and deep space exploration. Not to mention being vital to our country’s nuclear testing and strategic defense.
But some said this ethereal paradox spoke of even darker secrets. Of alien crash landings, extraterrestrial bodies and alien technology locked away in a top secret military installation known only by its official designation, Area 51.
One might never know exactly why just so many nuclear tests were done out there in the deserts north of Las Vegas.
“I was confused, because I couldn’t imagine what was burning that could cause that much flame.”
– Dave Thayer Plant Engineer, PEPCON
We’ll start there.
After a long and protracted series of investigations concluding in the apparent rebuilding of the basic understanding of chemistry (something they could have alluded to before they built the rocket factory), they finally were able to reconstruct the particular chain of events that had led to PEPCON’s explosive conclusion.
A leak from an old natural gas pipeline running underneath the facility had let gas escape into the ground prior to the incident. For how long exactly no one could be sure, but apparently long enough for it to have percolated through the concrete and loose desert floor and begin to crawl and work its way into storage and work areas. By itself natural gas has no odor, and that’s what makes it so dangerous. The industry standard nowadays is to add a sweet or sulfur-smelling chemical to warn of leaks, but back then this safety procedure was presumably not being utilized. The other fateful element in the mix was the sheer amount of ammonium perchlorate being stored on site. Ammonium perchlorate had typically endured a much shorter shelf-life, but the Challenger shuttle tragedy from the year before had led to a general freeze on AP usage and PEPCON had subsequently been forced to store a lot more on the premises. The situation had never been planned for and they’d been forced to store huge amounts of it indoors, in aluminum bins. It had also begun collecting in a thin layer on the ground and equipment and even the buildings. It didn’t take much more to jump start the fatal turn of events. Construction work going on had sparked the natural gas, and after prolonged exposure had created enough heat to ignite the ammonium perchlorate, leading to further heat. Once enough heat had built up in the enclosed storage areas the aluminum bins themselves had lit on fire, invoking the mother of all chemical reactions, metal oxide molecules on fire. Thermite.
A supersonic detonation caused by a thermite reaction after a successful buildup of exothermic reactions resulted in enough heat to make metal combust.
Easy. Basic chemistry.
Any savvy stalwart upstart youth who’d managed to procure for themselves the most holiest of anarchical relics, the Anarchist Cookbook, the exordium of alchemy and amateur spell casting, was sure to have pursued such an endeavor for themselves. May even have spent a good portion of their youths, in search of said objective.
The lesson? More windows. Or maybe this was finally the time America learned to stop storing a potential thermite reaction indoors without a proper ventilation system in place for this exact reason.
But really, who are any to judge? To laugh at those involved in the mistakes of the past is to belie the fact they were there to get the job done, others were not.
And what was the state of the rest of America? The year 1988 was the year Nirvana recorded their first demo tape, their melodic playful chords a stunning backdrop to the screaming harmonies of Kurt Cobain’s pain and addictions on energetic display for the world to see. It was the year Sega Genesis launched Sonic the speeding whirling fighting Hedgehog. It was the year of the richest fight in boxing history (up to that point), and many say the apex of Mike Tyson’s boxing career. The 1988 championship fight was held in Atlantic City, and put on by none other than our current Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Trump. Mike Tyson knocked out then undefeated heavyweight champion Mike Spinks in 91 seconds, in what some say was the ultimate fight night of his career.
“Alcohol? No thanks. I prefer big guns and fair play. But I’ll have a look at your yachts”
Against the current national backdrop, fireworks in Vegas was the norm. Bringing dynamite to the party was expected. A little yeehaw in the desert was just par for the course.
It was also six years before the birth of the internet and the dawn of the Information SuperAge, the compilation and complete dispersal of human knowledge and achievement. People were still stuck viewing events through the lens of “experts” without knowing all the facts themselves.
Pre-Internet PC technology in 1988
It was also the year actor Michael Douglass won Best Actor for the move Wall Street.
Nine years later high schooler Nathan Zohner would become a local legend when his “How Gullible Are We?” science fair project garnered national fame with his carefully misleading proposal that people sign his petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide. His reasoning was science-based and factual, but completely misleading in its applied use.
Summary of “factual” claims:
is also known as hydroxyl acid, and is the major component of acid rain.
contributes to the “greenhouse effect”.
may cause severe burns.
contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.
Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:
as an industrial solvent and coolant.
in nuclear power plants.
in the production of styrofoam.
as a fire retardant.
in many forms of cruel animal research.
in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.
as an additive in certain “junk-foods” and other food products.
However, the hidden truth is that dihydrogen monoxide is water. Yet people could still be mislead into thinking it was dangerous and give their support to have it banned and/or heavily regulated by the government.
The term “Zohnerism“, coined by James K. Glassman, would come to mean “the use of a true fact to lead a scientifically and mathematically ignorant public to a false conclusion.”
Now is this inherently wrong or dumb of humans? No. You can’t expect most people to walk around being able to identify scientific nomenclature for everyday materials. And in the end people were quick to understand the true situation and be able to laugh it off and reorient correctly quite quickly. It’s not like the ruse was permanent or binding.
But it proved a point. That public perception of “chemicals” could garner quick hysterical “judgment” calls. In the pre-dawning of the Information SuperAge, misinformation could still be used in societally-dangerous, self-injurious fashion.
The “California Shuffle”
That same year, 1997, perchlorate was “discovered” in the California water system. Through “scientific methods” they claimed they were able to differentiate between this “new” perchlorate that was “man-made”, versus naturally occurring perchlorate, which had been produced by the environment for eons; and claimed they were able to trace it to the Kerr-McGee mines and factories located in Las Vegas, as well as the Las Vegas PEPCON disaster site from a decade earlier.
But according to testing done at Lake Mead, actually located in Las Vegas, testing indicated a presence of only 11 ppb of perchlorate, which was considered quite low. In fact according to medical literature up to that point, 2,800 ppb was considered safe. But apparently Las Vegas’ “missing perchlorate” was deemed a danger to the public.
“It’s okay, because we’re a family now.”
Five years would go by before scandal would again erupt in the desert paradise of Las Vegas. Four out of the seven members of the Clark County Commission (considered by many to be the most powerful governing body in the entire state of Nevada) would be indicted on charges of corruption and bribe taking as a result of Operation G-Sting. They are all convicted. They are all members of the Democratic party.
By 2006 Kerr-McGee had restructured its subsidiary operations, grouping its highly profitable fuel and petroleum interests into one organization called Anadarko Petroleum and consolidating its mining and rocket fuel manufacturing facilities into a separate corporate entity called Tronox, which it sold for $16.5 billion cash.
By this time Senator Feinstein of California had begun drafting numerous letters and legislation complaining of the dangers of perchlorate and demanding government intervention. Within a few short years perchlorate was deemed a massive threat to the public spawning huge efforts to outlaw its use and production.
In 2009 Tronox remained unable to pay its environmental liability bills and filed for bankruptcy.
2013 – 2015
In 2013 the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York decided against Kerr-McGee Corporation/Anadarko, claiming it acted in bad faith to offload its businesses involving environmental liabilities and pollutants. The Court awards between $5.1 Billion and $14.1 billion to settle the lawsuit and direct funds towards cleanup of Kerr-McGee pollutant sites across the country.
It was stated that Tronox did not reveal the amount of liability to investors. Yet some might argue they didn’t know the amount of liability as it was being made up as they went along.
So What Actually Is Perchlorate?
Perchlorate is an ancient food source accounting for massive amounts of bacterial life on earth. It also works as an electrolyte, substances which are responsible for mediating the body’s intake of water, as well as bodily secretions through urea and sweat. In fact 30-60% of the body’s chlorine (yes chlorine is naturally occurring in the body), is in the skin. This is also why chlorine is considered safe to use in public swimming pools as a disinfectant, because this is one of its primary purposes within the human body as well.
Chlorine is in the halogen family of the periodic table. Halogen means “salt-producing”, which explains why chlorine is essential to our species. Both sodium and chlorine are highly reactive in their base elemental form, but together, make up one of the most integral minerals necessary for human survival. Table salt. Perchlorate is also a precursor chemical, specifically a non-hydrogenated, sugar substitute. Sucralose, the sugar substitute, is made by chlorinating sucrose. Perchlorate is sucralose without the hydrogen, e.g. it is a non-hydrogenated form of it.
One of these is “allegedly” a dangerous criminal. Can you tell which?
Chlorine, in the form of chlorides, is essential for the building and breaking down of bodily tissue, as well as managing the acid/base levels in the body. Chlorates are constantly reduced to chlorides within the body and put to essential use, the excess oxygen created from this reaction is absorbed and put to use by the blood capillaries in the stomach. People that have chlorine deficiencies are in ill health. People that have oxygen deficiencies, are near death. They are both essential for human survival. To somehow turn their most stable molecular alliance into a bad guy is not just irresponsible and irrational, it’s dumb.
Perchlorate is a fundamental part of the existent biological, environmental ecosystem, yet somehow this very fact got turned into evidence against it. “In November 2004, the Food and Drug Administration reported detecting perchlorate in 90% of lettuce samples collected in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida and New Jersey. Additionally, 101 out of 104 milk samples purchased from retail stores around the country, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Louisiana, Washington, Missouri, Texas and Kansas, contained perchlorate.”
The “evidence” they used to criminalize perchlorate was the fact that since perchlorate can be taken up in place of iodine, it can contribute to a potential iodine deficiency and resulting thyroid condition. However, iodine is so readily available in the United States this is extremely unlikely to ever happen. A person would have to somehow evade all the readily available sources of iodine in foods and dairy products to even be susceptible to the effects of too much perchlorate uptake.
Here’s another study on the dangers of local sources of perchlorate. This one has us comparing piss samples! What an absurd way to quantify something so urgent! Almost as if someone’s actually taking a piss on science! Who would do that!
Here’s some actual clinical studies of effects of increased perchlorate uptake, but honestly this really shouldn’t even be necessary, perchlorate is so intrinsic to the environment it’s almost inconceivable to have to attempt to pump us full of it just to see how much of a good thing would actually be a bad thing. Yet California attempted to propose a limit/standard of 6 parts per billion. To give you an idea of how absurd that is, 1 part per billion is the equivalent of a grain of salt in an Olympic-size swimming pool.
Yet “perchlorate contamination” was used as an excuse to tack on an extra couple BILLION for “cleanup” onto the Kerr-McGee/Tronox bankruptcy settlement agreement. We are literally in the desert digging up perchlorate and calling it “cleanup“.
In 2017, 415,900 pounds of perchlorate was dug up and removed from Vegas sites, for a grand total of 9,987,000 pounds removed. Apparently some appendices have been omitted from the public reporting of the data, but you can contact Weiquan Dong at wdong[at]ndep.nv.gov for more information, or by phone at 702-486-2850 x252
It’d be curious to see what sort of legal representation perchlorate had in its own defense so as to be able to prevent the shuttering of entire U.S. industries. Otherwise this entire debacle is “Fake News” science designed to prop up massive financial gain for legal industries, destroy an essential industry, weaken the national economy, and put the country at risk.
What About Real Contaminants?
Most true environmental contaminants are hydrophobic, meaning they do not dissolve easily in water, if at all. A great example of this is in the movie A Civil Action, starring John Travolta. The movie depicts true environmental contamination during the scene when the teenage boys toss fireworks into the lake and it catches fire because the contaminants form an oily layer that doesn’t mix with the lake water.
The most consistently valid measure of danger a chemical compound represents to human contact and consumption is how soluble it is in water, as this determines how fast the human body can get rid of the substance either via excretion or catabolism. Any sort of oily chemical compound that dissolves easily in fats and lipids but not in water will result in bioaccumulation in the body. This causes the body’s endocrine system to overcompensate, and may even result in the body attacking itself, such as in autoimmune diseases, even cancer. In fact obesity, the accumulation of body fat, is strongly linked to cancer.
In particular, aromatic hydrocarbons, with their highly stable benzene ring are the real culprits of biological contamination. Why? Because their closed ring-like structure is too stable to be broken down naturally inside the human body. Instead they simply accumulate, dissolving and sitting in our body fat. They clog pores, tissues and create chronic autoimmune issues.
But their delocalized electron properties allow them to create endless chains of hydrocarbons which provide a predictable consistent chemical reaction that can be manipulated and used for industrial purposes. This is the basis for their use in fuels and plastics, as well as the inherent danger of their use. In fact most man-made catastrophes are linked to their usage.
But what about chemical disasters related to chlorine? The Seveso disaster of 1976 resulted in six tons of industrial chemicals being spread across the surrounding regions. However the only clear deleterious result was 200 cases of chloracne, a condition with a highly misleading name, as the actual damage and injury was a result of TCDD released in the explosion. TCDD contains those benzene rings which clogged the skin and created lesions in 200 victims. It was not associated with chlorine, in fact trichlorophenol, a chlorine compound, was used to combat the skin lesions.
And what about Agent Orange? Same thing, it’s the TCDD contained inside that actually poses a threat. The danger to humanity Agent Orange represents is in its ability to enter the human body through fat where it binds to the aptly named aryl hydrocarbon receptor within our bodies and corrupts gene and protein expression.
And what of other seemingly innocuous chemicals prone to catastrophe? A much more dangerous chemical, gold, was found in California in 1848, resulting in the genocide of California Native American populations. Thought Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act of 1830 resulted in many tragedies and forced removal of Native American populations, it could be argued that no other place aside from California managed to “attract” more malicious acts of violence against Native Americans. California was known for having huge amounts of Indians murdered during innocent social ceremonies.
Back To The Future
Because of such massive difficulties in the mining, production and refining of of space technology materials, Elon Musk has decided to go back to designing rockets from stainless steel, as opposed to much lighter materials such as carbon fiber and titanium. Why? Because of the production costs and political difficulties brought on the industry in the 1990s.
Stainless steel? Is the space industry back in the eighties? Will Musk toasters be available for purchase any time soon?
How will the SEC respond to Musk’s blatant techno-plagiarism?
And what of Las Vegas’ very own billionaire philanthropist, Robert Bigelow, and his space technology company Bigelow Aerospace? With only a “meager” $250 million-$500 million of his own personal fortune in the mix, he’s not even in the running. Rocket fuel and large, heavy duty metal design of spacecraft aren’t in the cards at that level. He’s stated, “This is a political problem … and one that I call upon the Trump administration to get involved in” as there’s “no clearly defined plan for moving from the space station to future platforms for research, manufacturing and other activities in low Earth orbit.”
Something’s got to give if American tech and industries have any chance at all of reaching and operating in outer space.
And what about the construction of more mundane instruments and products, such as medical instruments? Titanium is regarded as the safest metal to be used in the construction of such sensitive equipment, yet we outsource most of our titanium mining and production to China. However low-grade variants of titanium can be manipulated or substituted in place of highly refined materials to the detriment of national industries.
There are few things so crucial to a country’s health so as to be absolutely mandatory to national solvency. What is the significance of mining to a country’s value and wealth? Intrinsic. It is the bedrock. It is literally the coin of the phrase.
How dare we outsource mineral resources to the outside world. To do so is to invite disaster.
And what about national defense? The costs of fuel for the use and servicing of military vehicles and aircraft is at an all-time high. In fact I wouldn’t hesitate to say U.S. national security and defense is currently at the mercy of faulty science.
Whoever’s mining titanium and rocket fuel ingredients is sure to be making a killing off U.S. war and defensive efforts. In fact just the money off the war debt incurred is massive.
There are certain faculties that are tantamount to a nation’s health and well being, that can never be subject to foreign control in any way. Education is one of them. Energy. Water and land. And mining. To outsource mining and mineral resource gathering to a foreign nation is to invite disaster on the country. Any attempt to explain the current predicament as being advantageous to the United States is tantamount to rationalizing treason, as it is clearly a lie.
Every single national economic strategy must account for and make use of mineral resources. If we do not get our mineral resource mining and industrial-grade ore refinement under control we shall lose, and the greatest country and social experiment ever devised, shall falter.
The enemies of the United States, both foreign and domestic, those which have been turned, do not adhere to “fair play”. They are “legalist” and communist in how they operate, they will reveal their nature in how they twist and use the law to criminalize, censure and slander sovereign citizens and patriots. They claim victimhood, but only use it to betray the Constitution. They use stalling tactics and stalemates as a way of concealing their victories. They proclaim that there is no real right or wrong, only the pursuit of money. They say that there is no true justice, that justice is subjective. But these are lies, these are what the enemy wants you to believe as they sneak up and destroy you from within. These are what allow for and enable the enemies of the United States living in America to justify their actions to themselves and others.
Was there a conspiracy to take down the U.S. space industry and bottleneck national efforts to produce necessary materials? It really doesn’t matter if there was or wasn’t, because regardless, it worked.
This will be a fight. But America is the land of the brave and the free, and Nevada is not the “Battle Born” state for nothing.
Miners & Raiders
Right next door to the old PEPCON disaster site is a titanium-rich deposit considered to be of world-class class significance, yet it is off-limits apparently to U.S. usage. This is fully absurd.
Governor Sisolak campaigned for Nevada students and saved them thousands in tuition fees. He campaigned for the Raiders and the Las Vegas Knights to come to Vegas. He worked hard to bring us nice things. Will he work to bring back this pertinent national industry to Nevada and Las Vegas? Mining jobs pay well, and provide plenty of skilled labor jobs that will go to those same Nevada college students he supported before.
And what of the brave and forlorn Adam Laxalt? The Nevada son returned to continue his family’s political legacy in the Silver State. Will he be the lawyer politician and gentleman warrior to take the stand in the face of corruption within his own ranks?
Or will it take the President reaching back in time to his first presidential bid, back in 1988 when it all began, and finally setting the record straight.
Regardless, never fear, ladies and gentlemen, don’t mind our space dust as we right some wrongs, set things straight, and drain the swamp. Because no matter what… America will be great again.
By the way, happy July 4th, and happy belated birthday to our much esteemed and revered 45th president, Donald Trump!