Most St. Louisans have heard the story of the Times Beach environmental disaster that made the small city a ghost town. This Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 (EPA) article gives a detailed timeline of how Times Beach, Missouri, became an environmental and public health warning spurring new laws and public awareness. Please read an excerpt from the EPA’s website and a link to read the full article, including the timeline of events surrounding the Times Beach demise.
(Below excerpt from the EPA Region 7 Website.)
EPA Region 7 Feature: By Jenn Little, Office of Public Affairs
The striking images above show one town, but two entirely different landscapes. On the left, abandoned homes dot the gridded street plan. On the right, 19 years later, trees have begun to cover the street lanes in the empty community.
This town, Times Beach, Missouri, was the site of one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation’s history. Nearly 40 years ago, an individual was paid to spray material on the roads to suppress the dust in this small Midwest town. What the town didn’t know was that he was spraying those roads with a mixture of the highly toxic chemical compound, dioxin, and waste oil. When the town was inundated by a terrible flood in December 1982, that toxic mix spread beyond the roads and covered the town.
As part of EPA’s 50th anniversary commemoration, we look back on the events surrounding the Times Beach disaster. Over its 50-year history, EPA’s enforcement and compliance work has played an integral and crucial role in protecting human health and the environment. The Times Beach tragedy was one of several like it at the time and helped spur the creation of the Superfund law, paving the way for countless cleanup and remediation actions at sites across the country.
Here is the story about that Times Beach tragedy.