Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gotta Be Startin’ Somethin’

Matt is in Altoona for training until Thursday, which mean’s it’s just me at home, and the small auxiliary Man O The House, Max. Max takes his MOTH duties very seriously.

The past two evenings it has been pleasantly cooler outside, enough so that (with Matt gone) I can open up the house, turn on the fans instead of the AC and air everything out. In fact, Monday night I needed not one but TWO blankets. It was fantastic.

So, house open, fans on, potato-leek soup on the stove, Max was rambunctious. Darkness had fallen. Matt called around 8:30ish, and as I was walking into the living room, I noticed the floor lamp looked like smoke was coming out of the top of the shade. Very odd, I turned off the lamp and had a look, nothing wrong at all. I checked the whole house (because you never know), nothing wrong.

Then, I went outside.

The valley was thick with what LOOKED like mist, or fog. But it wasn’t fog at all. It wasn’t moist enough to be fog, and the grass was very dry. The houses across the street were visible, but it was like a 3/4 whiteout snow storm. No smell in the air, no smoke.


My neighbor called and said “Look outside.” I said “I’m out on the porch,” to which she replied, “I’ll be right over.”

We live in a valley below a mineral factory that mines PA greenstone. When I first moved here, we would wake up to find a fine powdering of green dust on our cars. In recent years, it has gotten progressively better and we recently had a discussion with a BigWig from the factory about how it had pretty much been eliminated over the past two or so years.

Well, this ‘fog’ was dust from the mill pouring down into the valley. I didn’t have a problem but my neighbor was all coughy and itchy skin. (I’m lucky-I don’t get the allergy reactions that a lot of people do even at higher levels, usually).

Shit. I had the house open, soup on the stove, and the fans on pulling all the nice cool air into the house. It wasn’t smoke pouring through the lamp shade – it was mill dust.

So, into the house I go pulling the fans out of the windows and turning the AC back on, dammit. I cannot tell you how much this pissed me off. Fortunately I had the BigWig’s card, so I called and left a message on his cell phone to please call me back, we’re having a dust storm.

Turns out, someone had already called him. He was at the garage across the street. So, I went over. By now, it was starting to blow out of the valley. The cars outside the garage were coated down in dust. Some of my not so pleasant neighbors were there talking to the BigWig, who basically said this isn’t normal (he’s right), it isn’t acceptable (bingo), and a sensor had malfunctioned. He said he’ll look into it, and put a second or third sensor as back-up on it so it doesn’t happen again.

I felt like I’d been coated down in talcum powder, so I got a quick shower. It bothers me how much dust probably got into the house. I will have to look more closely when I get home from work today. I’ll have to hose down the veggies tonight.

It just seems too convenient to me. Why do these things always happen Under The Cover of Night?? I mean, they had been doing so well! They have improved a huge amount in recent years! I understand that things do happen, but come on!

So, I think I’m going to fill out a PA DEP incident report online. What do you think?


Angie said...

The mineral dust you described is probably a health hazard. I would encourage you to contact the state department of health as well as the department of environmental protection.

Have you or Max experienced any unpleasant symptoms since then?

Jody M said...

I did. There is a confidential form online to fill out.

I also got a call back from the DEP guy who told me that the BigWig had actually called in the spill, which surprised me. I feel better about this now (in terms of the company stepping up their game, not about the spill). At least they seem to be trying to be responsible for their mistakes now.

Me voici₪Here I am said...

I'm surprised there isn't some sort of automatic call system to the valley people when the possibility of a dusting will occur.

You know, this is all very The Oblongs.

Jody M said...

An update - I got a call from the DEP guy this morning. He said some very interesting things, and said he did have a call into the BigWig to, basically, "See if he lies to me." Ahem. We'll see what happens.