World Travelin' Trash

It started simple enough: in 1986, Philadelphia solid waste officials loaded 14,000 tons of incinerator ash onto a cargo ship. The crew was instructed to find a site to unload it. But 14 years and six refusals from various countries later, 2,000 tons of the ash has surfaced on barges along the Florida coast.

For more than two years, the ship's crew sailed the Caribbean in search of a dump site. They reported being turned away from ports at gunpoint and threatened by environmentalists claiming the ash was toxic. In 1987, they unloaded 4,000 tons in Haiti; the other 10,000 was dumped in the ocean, the ship's captain later testified.

At press time, 2,000 tons from Haiti was sitting on barges at Ft. Pierce and Stuart, Fla., waiting for officials from Houston-based Waste Management Inc. to find them a home. No one knows what happened to the other 2,000 tons.

Source: Associated Press

Smart Bugs Forget training seals, dogs or lions. Jo Davison, president of Lamda Bioremediation Systems Inc., Columbus, Ohio, breeds microbes to perform different tasks, such as break down hydrocarbons and remove disease-causing bacteria from soil. Davison has spent 30 years compiling a database of 14,867 different kinds of bugs, including hybrids.

To figure out what is needed for a particular process, workers at the 16-year-old company type a problem into the database and out comes the name of the appropriate bug to do the job.