According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Dow Chemical has contributed to 96 Superfund toxic waste sites. One of these, a former uranium processing plant is particularly disturbing. From 1951 to 1975, Dow managed the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production facility. It produced plutonium triggers for hydrogen bombs.
In the 1960's a "rare event" occurred where some stuff blew up and caused a bit of "collateral damage." Americans know this is the price we pay for "freedom," but Dow and its lawyers had to be persuaded for over 30 years to share in this liberty debt. A federal judge made the company reluctantly cough up a billion dollars for their goof.
Of course, I didn't talk about any of this to the good folks in Midland, MI where Dow is headquarters. It's the largest employer in town and has remained an economic juggernaut in good times and bad. The weary people of Michigan don't want to listen to a crank point out other Dow flubs: Agent Orange, Napalm, Silicone Breast Implants, Nemagon and the brazen move to buy Union Carbide at a discount after the Bhopal disaster.
We've gotta take the good with the bad. After all, Dow is a leader in manufacturing GMOs and they invented styrofoam! Imagine a world without that stuff. A nightmare.
Just past a Chemical Bank branch, I found Bicycle HQ. Its a nice shop with an incredible assortment of bikes ranging from trikes to high end recumbents. It's been going strong since 1986 and one of the owners, Sondi took time to take my picture and asked about my journey. Her mechanic, Mickey, was affable and gave me the best lunch recommendation. If anyone makes it to Bay City, check out the Espresso Express.
I took a rest day because I felt a bit sick this morning and I have a long haul to suburban Detroit to meet up with Rich Moore--perhaps my most laid back, easygoing friend in North America. I think he might even possess one micron more Zen than San Francisco's Snappy Tom. For the few of you that know Snappy, you know this is an incredible feat for a successful Motor City salesman.
Farewell Midland! Good luck with "better living through chemistry."