Names and Terms

Below in alphabetical order (last name first for people) are brief explanations of some terms and identifications of names that appear in the website and may not be known to those not engaged in the clean-up of sites in the Pine River Watershed or engaged in responses to the health concerns of those exposed to contaminants:

AIG: an insurance company that sold both Velsicol and Fruit of the Loom $100 million environmental insurance policies in 1998

ANP: adjacent and neighboring properties, a term in St. Louis for a nine-block area of homes where soils were contaminated wit DDT

ATSDR: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a Superfund program within the Centers for Disease Control focused on human health assessments related to Superfund sites

Breckenridge Cancer Cluster: a cluster of non-Hodgkin lymphoma detected in Breckenridge, Michigan a few miles downwind east of St. Louis

Breckenridge Waste Site: a radioactive waste dump operated by Velsicol along Bush Creek on Madison Rd. between St. Louis and Breckenridge

Burn Pit: The Superfund site across the river from the old Velsicol plant in St. Louis, where wastes were burned, also called the Golf Course site or the Velsicol Burn Pit site

CAG: community advisory group; term under Superfund regulations; the Pine River Task Force is a CAG

Carson, Rachel: biologist and author of Silent Spring which identified especially problems caused by products of Velsicol; became a symbol of chemical regulations

CERCLA: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act that is the full name of Superfund passed by Congress in 1980 to clean the worst contaminated sites in the U.S.

Chicago and North Western Railway: bought Velsicol shortly after it acquired Michigan Chemical; eventually became Northwest Industries and later Fruit of the Loom

Clark, Alpha: veterinarian in McBain, Michigan, who did early work identifying PBB exposure in farms in west Michigan

Consent Judgment: a legal term for a settlement to a legal dispute where guilt is not admitted but an action is taken to correct a problem

Corbett, Thomas: a physician at the University of Michigan who did early PBB work

DDT: a pesticide perfected for use during World War II, produced by Michigan Chemical after 1944; one of pesticides on which Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring focused

DNAPL: see Dense Nonaqueous Phase Liquid

Dense Nonaqueous Phase Liquid: DNAPL; a syrupy substance composed of contaminants

EGLE: Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, formerly MDEQ or DEQ and before that part of the Department of Natural Resources

Emergency Removal Action: under Superfund, conducted when a site is found to be highly contaminated; there was one of these in 1999 to remove the worst sediment in the Pine River

Farley, Bill: owner of Fruit of the Loom from 1984 until the late 1990s; sold Velsicol to its managers shortly after buying Fruit of the Loom

Farm Bureau: an organization of farmers that owned a cooperative feed supply business in Battle Creek where PBB accidently was mixed with animal feed

Firemaster: flame retardant manufactured by Michigan Chemical, composed of PBB; mistakenly shipped to Farm Bureau in 1973 in place of Nutrimaster

Fruit of the Loom: old underwear company, acquired by Northwest Industries which later took its; after Fruit sold Velsicol, it retained ownership of St. Louis plant site

Gratiot County Landfill: a former solid waste landfill now a Superfund site just south of St. Louis, Michigan on Jackson Rd. where Velsicol dumped tons of contaminated wastes

Gratiot Golf Course Site: a name for the Burn Pit Superfund site west-across the Pine River from the old Velsicol plant site; a location where Velsicol burned chemical wastes

Horse Creek: a once highly polluted with refinery wastes tributary of the Pine River; cleaned under a Supplemental Environmental Project under the Total Petroleum settlement

Leonard Refinery: located in Alma upstream from Michigan Chemical, bought Midwest Refinery and acquired in 1970 by Total Refining

Mag-Oxide: the short name for the core component of Michigan Chemicals animal feed supplement, Nutrimaster

McClanahan Refinery: operated a refinery on southside of what became Michigan Chemical’s St. Louis chemical plant, later part of Great Lakes Chemical

MDCH: the Michigan Dept. of Community Health, now called the Michigan Dept, of Health and Human Services (MDHHS); see also MDPH

MDEQ: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, now called EGLE – Environment, Great Lakes and Energy; formerly DNR

MDHHS: The Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services, see also MDCH & MDPH

Michigan Chemical: founded in 1935 in St. Louis, Michigan; later part of Velsicol Chemical

MDPH: the Michigan Department of Public Health, the former name of MDHHS and MDCH

Midwest Refinery: operated a refinery in Alma, Michigan upriver of Michigan Chemical

National Priorities List (NPL): under the Superfund program, a list of more than a 1,000 of the worst contaminated sites in the country; St. Louis has 3 NPL sites

NIEHS: National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences; a part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health

NPL: see National Priorities List

Northwest Industries: name of once was the Chicago and North western Railway which had bought Velsicol and Michigan Chemical in 1965, later took the name Fruit of the Loom

Nutrimaster: an animal feed supplement primarily composed magnesium oxide produced by Michigan Chemical

Operable Unit: an OU, subparts of a Superfund site; usually a part of a site with similar problems that can be resolved by similar methods; the Velsicol site has several OUs

OU: see Operable Unit”

Oxford Automotive: earlier Lobdell-Emery, an auto parts manufacturer in Alma that dumped hexavalent chromium and other contaminants into the Pine River; sued by Task Force

PBB: an abbreviation for polybrominated biphenyls, a core component of fire retardants

PBB Accident: mix-up by Michigan Chemical in 1973 of PBB based fire retardants and animal feed supplement

PBB Registry: a group of people exposed to PBB that has been followed since the 1970s to check for consequences of exposures to PBB, currently the responsibility of Emory University

pCBSA: para-Chlorobenzinesulfonic acid is a byproduct of DDT production found in the old water system of St. Louis, causing replacement of the system

Railroad spur: A set of tracks that served the Michigan Chemical/Velsicol Chemical plant in St. Louis.  Concern has existed for sometime that the railroad cars moving in and out of the plant may have spilled contaminants along the abandoned right-of-way between the mainline and the plant gates.  The railroad was originally the Pere Marquette, which became part of the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Railroad in 1947.  After the plant closed, the C & O became CSX Corporation.  In 1987.  As part of the creation of CSX, the railroad through St. Louis was sold to the MidMichigan Railway, a new company that owned only the track from Saginaw (Paines, Michigan) to Alma

Record of Decision: a ROD, a superfund term for a process of announcing an EPA clean-up plan, includes a formal process of public comment on the proposed ROD

Regenstein, Joseph: founder of Velsicol Chemical; also patented the window envelop

ROD: see Record of Decision

Selikoff, Irving: physician and pioneer in occupational-health research, for many years at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, led early PBB exposure studies

Seven Sites: Velsicol’s worst sites of contamination including the St Louis plant site & the Breckenridge dump; Velsicol wouldn’t take these sites when it split from Fruit of the Loom

Silent Spring: best seller by Rachel Carson published in 1962 criticizing especially chemicals patented by Velsicol

Slurry Wall: According to Wikipedia, “A slurry wall is a civil engineering technique used to build reinforced concrete walls in areas of soft earth close to open water, or with a high groundwater table. This technique is typically used to build diaphragm (water-blocking) walls surrounding tunnels and open cuts, and to lay foundations.”  A slurry wall was supposed to be built around the Velsicol plant site in St. Louis to keep contaminated ground water from moving out of the site into the community or the Pine River.  In 1988, ATSDR warned the slurry wall did not seem to be working.  Concern has existed since that time. 

Smith Farm: a multi-polluter dump site on State Road and Jackson Rd. just south of St. Louis; a state regulated site; not a Superfund site

Superfund: the short name for the USEPA administered program for cleaning up the most contaminated sites in the U.S.  Also see CERCLA. St. Louis has 3 Superfund sites.

Supplemental Environmental Project: a SEP, a process under law that converts a pollution fine into a community project; the Task Force got Total fines turned into a SEP

TAG: technical assistance grant; under Superfund, communities can apply for TAGs to pay for getting ‘second-opinions’ on EPA clean-up decisons

That We May Live: book ghost written for Jamie Whitten and paid for by Velsicol and Shell Chemical to attack Silent Spring

Total Refining: the largest French oil company: acquired Leonard Refining in Alma in 1970; Alma for a time was Total’s U.S. Headquarters

United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA): World War II era international refugee agency, bought large quantities of DDY from Michigan Chemical

Velsicol Chemical: founded in 1931 in Chicago by Joe Regenstein, bought Michigan Chemical in 1965

Wallace, George: Michigan State Univ. ornithologist who did pioneering research on the impact of DDT use on birds; target of criticism by chemical industry