Re: [asa] Level of certainty in science

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Wed Feb 07 2007 - 13:42:15 EST

On 2/7/07, PvM <> wrote:
> Janice's accusation against NASA may seem to be correct at first
> glance but a closer scrutiny of the issue reveals that in proper
> context, NASA's announcement was indeed correct in establishing the
> link of CFCs to the ozone depletion. However, the statement that there
> are no natural sources of HF is incorrect, although the relevant data
> suggest that there are no relevant natural sources to stratospheric
> HF. It is the combination of findings from the NASA data which formed
> the smoking gun.

Speaking of HF, this reminds me of an event from 1987. Even though I never
enter the fab I was required to take safety training concerning the dangers
of HF because it is used as a solvent in semiconductor manufacturing. HF is
particularly nasty because it does not burn the skin but feels like water.
It then binds with the calcium in your bones and muscles. In large enough
doses (not large), it can cause heart failure due to this effect. So, the
company policy was treat all liquids as HF. One female employee when she
spilled de-ionized water on herself due to modesty refused to strip to her
birthday suit and step in the chemical shower. She was fired on the spot.

In 1987, a large cloud of HF (30,000 pounds) was released into the
atmosphere from a refinery in Texas City which I believe is a suburb of
Houston. People around the cloud complained of excessive coughing and lung
irritation. Because Texas was "business friendly" and anti-environmental
activist, Marathon Oil got away with giving $20 per person exposed. The
previous sentence is NOT a typo and wouldn't even cover going to your family
doctor to check you out. A New York Times article from 20 December
1987 revealed Marathon's attitude:

Marathon officials said a release of hydrofluoric acid had never resulted in
> a fatality and that the comparison with Bhopal was overblown and
> inappropriate. ''It's obvious this was an entirely different situaton than
> Bhopal,'' said a Marathon spokesman, Ira Winsten. ''I question the motives
> of anyone who would try to make that comparison.''

And that M.O. continues to this day of questioning the motives of anyone
with environmental concerns. I really don't think the people of Houston in
1987 were Gaia worshippers. Odds are they were majority Christian and
evangelical Christian at that. This is Texas and not New York.

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Received on Wed Feb 7 13:43:31 2007

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