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National Educational radio presents the following program in cooperation with a group w o the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company I believe that the people who run Clinton was but again we're discovering a very great deal of new interest in air pollution for a while and it will be extremely costly. We can't afford we can't afford one sort of released so amazingly variegated. But I guess the air pollution index is a mass reading of various kind of contaminants in the atmosphere. Yeah. Right. Everyone in the city gets into a chronic cough or lung disease would have to wear a gas mask during the day the great lakes have been neglected for a long time that would cost 20 years but America the Beautiful is quite a handsome state
tax rate. The words you've just heard all the catchphrases of the clean up America campaign words from government officials and irate citizens. People worried as never before by the hazards to health and the nation's future created by water and air pollution. Group w o the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company presents the pollution explosion a 10 part study of the rising tide of air and water pollution in America. Your commentator is. When air and water pollution occur there's a third product that is closely related solid waste. Some are braced and amazingly variegated assortment of the kinds of things that we throw away that are neither liquids or gases. Everything from the daily newspaper to an abandoned automobile
or from a conventional household garbage to the demolition of a huge building speaking is Kenneth public affairs officer of the office of solid waste U.S. Public Health Service. The amounts of these materials you might be interested to know. There are only roughly estimated because nobody has yet done what could be called a really exhaustive analysis of the solid waste problem this needs to be done. But every man woman and child in the country is generating somewhere between four and a half and eight pounds of solid waste a day. This is enough if you like this kind of comparison to sell the Panama Canal four times every year. There's a good deal of it around the disposal of the solid waste. It's a formidable problem one to which there are few acceptable solutions at present. There are many good reasons for this. Chief among them the fact that although dumps and litter
are aesthetic blights enormous sums of money more than for cleaning up air and water pollution combined will be required to control the accumulation of solid wastes. Up to this point it has been impossible for local governments to allocate substantial sums for what has been considered essentially a beautification programme as Mrs Johnson has said in her campaign to restore America's landscape. Perhaps the chief difficulty in promoting on a national scale comes from the very fact. That it is such an intangible quality. You cannot measure it but the slide rule it does not fit into the gross national product. Tally up yet we know the answer straight As and as a nation.
There's your ugliness of air water and solid waste. Pollution is of course an important factor in the public's interest in cleaning it up. As we work less and have more leisure time to notice and to enjoy our landscapes. The outcry against the disfigurement of our country swells ever louder. But solid waste breed disease as well. An urgent point that the US Public Health Service is trying to drive home. The problem remains a difficult one and Mr Pfleger insists that we must change our attitudes about it before any real progress can be made. The attitude that it can be gotten rid of may be at the root of a lot of our troubles with the solid waste problem. As with air and water pollution as well which of course are closely related we don't get rid of things. We use things but you don't get rid of a newspaper when you're finished with it. It's well let's say hypothetically and this is certainly the case in the eastern part of the United States for sure. That newspaper is probably taken off to an incinerator or a dump someplace
it has completely lost its value within a day as a matter of fact. But it isn't gone it hasn't gone away. Even if you burn it you're only converting that newspaper into pilot air pollution and part ash. Which of course is still a solid waste problem. So when it comes to figuring out what to do with solid waste we ought to forget the idea that we are going to do away with them. We're not we're going to try to figure out how to manage them. There are some fairly effective local programs underway to reuse solid wastes. Los Angeles has perhaps one of the best programs because of the smog problem incineration of trash and garbage is outlawed and in 1957 Los Angeles began collecting waste and using it as a landfill. Norman Bea director of the Los Angeles bureau of sanitation explains in the last signs was we're very
fortunate in having close by the metropolitan area. Many Kenyans are amenable to filling with solid waste and recovering the land for other purposes. For instance we have a canyon in Griffith Park. This canyon was actually on used until 957 we started combustible rubbish collection. It was decided that would be an excellent reclamation spot to provide some level ground for recreational purposes. In this area that was principally mountains and canyons. We started on a project that 20 on canyon which contemplated developing about 40 acres of recreational site that would be built on top of the fill it was progressive and layers and covered was to make a suitable recreational area. Since that project got started at the Department of recreation and parks and been
rather enthused about the prospects of developing additional area and that project has been extended so that when it's finally completed and either. 10 years and have 100 acres are very attractive and a very excellent recreational property in the western states with thousands of square miles of mountainous unsettled country have a distinct advantage over the crowded East. New York City officials for instance have nightmares about fun city being buried under its enormous daily load of solid waste. And don't take very kindly at the same time to suggestions from California experts. Former New York City air pollution control Commissioner Ben lyne recounts with a touch of bitterness some of the disposal ideas put forth. We have had some brilliant exploration was into us who have suggested that New York City Gabi be trucked upstate New York to Long Island and my basic question is what city
upstate New York or what city way out and I would like New York city's garbage. More particularly what cities would like a procession of trucks going to their cities to bury this guy. Would you a hundred miles away from New York. And if we had more time I could give you some of the wild ideas that we get from some of the inventors on the public that tell us how to operate these things. One suggestion being that we operate a fleet of garbage trains from New York put in the garbage and shipping it out to California Nevada California sorry to have this brilliant idea. Give them the benefit of having only God was delivered to them. Incineration with its residual component of air pollution remains the most common method of solid waste disposal in crowded areas. Many engineers feel it is still the best method at this time. Commissioner Ben lie emphatically agrees the only solution at the present time is complete and competent incineration the type of incineration divide by the Martin van road companies of Europe and now being built in Montreal and in awful.
That type of incineration is almost perfect in this operation. It's as perfect as any type of disposal. Still it facility can be. This must be done in the absence of anything better. And the thing that must be done must be to get the money up in the first place. The department sanitation has talked about several figures one of the figures are 60 million dollars in even 60 million dollars. Not the beginning and the end of the solution of the disposal of New York City is a somewhat waste matter has me a rogue as chief engineer of the New York City Department of Sanitation agrees with Mr. Ben line and he hopes to have a complete burning incinerators installed within 10 years to take care of most of the city's yearly five million tons of solid waste. Now however about 50 percent of the wastes are disposed of in a sanitary landfill operation. Mr August explains how this is possible the size here I was telling you is only a
proposition. It's an interim solution by virtue of the fact that Sun wrote a program to almost a hundred million dollars and you can spend the hundred million dollars at this program. So you have to spread it out over so to continue six million tons. So a lot of the do you do the best that you can with the incentive that you can afford your dispose of in the sanatorium at the mouth of the tide. That really is on the shore that we have been really climbing by actually in effect
extending the show rather than an approach of the technical and engineering fashion on the proper control so as to limit the nuisance and get the best. So on substance we're getting rid of the refuse. Substantially lower right than by incineration and at the same time they will be converted to very useful purposes. Only Reason why would we have to build number one. The availability of those lands is very limited by virtue of the fact that it's surrounded by joining in with the
incineration we have to resist 30 percent of the material that we can only dispose of so the point here read that we've got to conserve our available today. So as we incinerate completely in the future we still have to get rid of the refuse which is and what that still must be. There are other methods for the disposal of solid waste. One of these perhaps not as farfetched as it seems at first is to harness incineration for electrical power generation. Michael Levy New York City Engineer is one of those making this suggestion to solve the city's problem and the City when all of the garbage that's collected in those in the millions and millions of tons they leave.
And then it's banked in the city's incinerator as if this this power that. Is given off or to be harnessed the city could light itself up could supply all of this. It would save the city a tremendous amount of money. The drawback at present to this system is that it's somewhat inefficient. A great deal more solid waste fuel is needed for power generation than is needed with petroleum for instance. Also air pollution problems in all but the most modern incinerators are enormous. One other approach that is really rather experimental in this country that is certainly worth mentioning. I techniques that I could lump together under the term composting these are processes which take the refuse of all kinds of municipal industrial and agricultural refuse and convert them into materials that have a nutrient value for soil. They are soil conditioners something like fertilizers. Again
US Public Health Service is getting fatigued but essentially you allow the refuse to cook itself down in such a way you may stimulate that in such a way that what you wind up with has organic matter or humus in other words which can be used to reclaim eroded over barren soil. There are many uses for this kind of material and many opportunities to use it in this country. This composting technique is not economically attractive now because there are cheaper commercial chemical fertilizers and soil conditioners. It is attractive in Europe and it is widely used in Europe where other kinds of fertilizers and so conditioners are more expensive rather than less risky is the kind of. Reasoning that the leads me anyway to the conclusion and other certainly to the conclusion that solid waste disposal is never going to be or probably never going to be economically profitable business
composting is not now a profitable business. Neither is incineration or land selling. But we have to plug into this equation. The social factor the factor of public health and welfare which may not readily be translatable into dollars and cents but is nevertheless the critical reason for facing up now to the solid waste disposal problem. With the exception of composting and sanitary landfill the federal government speaking for Mr. Reagan regards most current forms of solid waste disposal as atrocious. And so Washington is attempting in a small way to help localities with the problem. When last October's amendment to the Clean Air Act was passed Congress created a separate office of solid waste under the Health Education and Welfare bene bypassing the solid waste disposal act. However as Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine explains this was just a beginning.
And money and effort are much more available in the air pollution fight solid waste disposal so-called is being implemented more slowly. As the department undertakes to do undertakes to develop a demonstration projects for developing new rays of disposing of solid wastes which are now on too often the open downs the program is small at this point although if the authorization and they solid waste disposal Act will allow it to grow considerably as it will have to grow again and it consists of several major elements run there is the new federal authority to support and conduct basic research on solid waste technology and on the health implications of solid weight of the solid waste problem. The federal government is now authorised to assist in manpower training and certainly this is one of the great limitations in the whole Solid Waste field there are not enough skilled people in this home
and Devore to apply new technology when it becomes available or even to make the best use of existing technology. The Act authorizes the federal government to support up to two thirds of the cost of projects carried on by public agencies or nonprofit organisations projects to demonstrate new and improved solid waste management practices principles and equipment. The Act authorizes. The federal government to encourage and support state efforts at state wide planning planning based on surveys that will identify every state in the country hopefully. But the magnitude of the solid waste problem is what's needed to deal with it and then to develop a plan and a state plan that will effectively manage solid waste disposal.
The Act also authorizes technical services. In other words the federal government will be in a position is now in a position to assist state and local agencies with their solid waste problems to provide consultation the sort of new ideas for future disposal of solid waste are slowly making themselves heard as the eastern states especially reel under the impact of the ever growing problem. I have suggested to see a very broad scheme but I think that feasible and practical and economical. Run comes first. The megalopolis pooling their interest together and taking this refuse out a very cheap way because profiting by ship is an expensive shipping or to the millions of acres of swamp
land in the county in the jaw and the reclaiming all of that tremendously vast abroad for commercial residential as well as recreational use it has to be a rogue who is not only a New York City sanitation engineer but a recognized expert on the subject. Now read on just on a very much more modest scale in the city of New York by bodging our Refuse to the brother of Richmond. When we have a three thousand acre site largely composed comprised of and. Through sanitary landfilling methods we're reclaiming this 3000 acres and we've been doing it for 15 years and we expect to continue doing it for another 15 years. So we will have an operation
there are 30 by this particular method which we find to be practical about the cheapest method and I think the big great benefit of reclaiming otherwise non usable nebulous scheme that I've advocated is taking this refuse and compressing it under the great pressure to probably one tenth of the burials. But I was and I want to see you know of some synthetic material and then taking these bets and either shipping two days via swamp lands in the southeast taking out to sea and sinking them in very deep water.
Now this is a very nebulous or rather nebulous but from my background and experience I think that the practical and it should be explored to the future because it's something that we will be facing health cost available space and preservation of natural beauty are all components of the solid waste disposal problem as they are in the fight to control air and water pollution. This youngest programme of solid waste disposal needs more money more research and more qualified technicians than the other two areas if only because both air and water pollution control have a good start on the road to solution Solid Waste Control has only just begun to chug along. Europe is far ahead of us in this field and there is much we can learn from her scientists and engineers. Ultimately however the three
problems. Air want to and land pollution will have to be considered as a whole and attacked as one huge problem. Ken Pfleger sums up the federal attitude. If there is to be an ultimate answer to the solid waste disposal problem. I think that answer has got to grow out of our awareness that wastes will have to be re-used because they don't go away. We can't any longer carelessly or fool in a foolhardy way. Burning wastes. We can't litter the ground with them. We may not even be able to afford the present luxury of burying them in sanitary landfills. The rate at which production of solid waste is spiraling It may very well triple within the next 20 years in this country coupled with the
with the increasing scarcity of land that can be used for the ultimate disposal of waste. It means to me very clearly that we will have to find ways of reducing the amount of waste that ultimately unsalvageable the kind that does have to be very. And to do this we must recycle wastes we must find ways to use them. We must take as Consolidated Edison of New York. Does the fly ash that comes out of its air pollution control equipment. The solid waste produced by air pollution control and turn it into building stones as Consolidated Edison does do. We must find ways of using municipal garbage and trash to replenish the soil as is being done particularly in Europe and someone in this country. We must find how to salvage to the fullest possible extent every bit of re-usable material from an automobile or a television set or a newspaper. We simply cannot
afford the luxury of throwing away these resources any longer. Nor can we afford the luxury of using up the land and the air and the water simply as reservoirs for these wastes. The problem has got to be approached from both angles because it is a total unified problem we can't talk about cleaning up red or pollution. Without thinking about what will we do with the materials kept out of the water. We can't think about solving air pollution problems and forget that in solving some of the many way we add to the solid waste problem. So as far as we are concerned the ultimate path toward solution is in the recycling and reuse of waste. There seems to be no other way that this problem can really comprehensively be solved. Ruth W. of the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company has presented the pollution explosion a 10 part study of the increasing pollution of America's air and water. The
series was produced by Robert Franklin written and recorded by Stephanie Shelton executive producer William J Kalen. Here again John Daley. Air pollution is an insidious enemy which is only just beginning to be seen in its true light. The next two programs will visit the cities where polluted air is a major problem highlight some good control programs and point up others which have left the urban dweller a sitting duck for the health hazards and expenses of dirty air. The ending on network has presented this program in cooperation with group w o the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company. This is the national education or radio network.
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Pollution explosion
Episode Number
Producing Organization
Westinghouse Broadcasting Company
Group W Productions
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents a variety of speeches, music clips, and commentary to analyze the pollution problem in the United States.
Series Description
A discussion of environment-related issues.
Media type
Host: Daly, John Charles, 1914-1991
Producing Organization: Westinghouse Broadcasting Company
Producing Organization: Group W Productions
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-8-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:27:00
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Chicago: “Pollution explosion; 6,” 1968-01-09, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 21, 2024,
MLA: “Pollution explosion; 6.” 1968-01-09. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Pollution explosion; 6. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from