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It will Kill You

Sometimes people say, “It will kill you,” and, hey, it doesn’t, won’t, hasn’t, so we tend to downplay the warning. I have been guilty of listening/not listening and sure enough it didn’t. But there are warnings you must heed.

This summer I encountered one and am dealing day by day in the most diligent and careful manner. Removing poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) from the full length of the earthen dam on the oldest pond here on my property. It is my morning chore.

One plant must have gone to seed on the newly cleared dam last fall and the most beautiful flowering crop came up and is thriving there with plenty of water from the pond, a comfortable setting and no disturbances. Then just at dawn each morning, the garbed human arrives, dressed as if going into the infectious disease research facility. Wearing the

full body suit, head gear, goggles, mask and utility water proof gloves.

Early is the only time to do this. It was closer to noon the first clearance day and the heat inside all that protection made for the other warnings you hear, “heat exhaustion” is a real thing, too and not to be taken lightly.

That first experience, when taking off the gloves, sweat poured out of them. I remember hearing many of the BF Goodrich employees telling me that was an every day experience for them, the working conditions so hot in the facility. Each interview has brought me a clearer understanding of the shear drive to provide for your family and what they must have endured to make a better life for them.

Each day, the hemlock removal and physical exhaustion limit is matched and the work is closer to completion.

The hemlock is beautiful, standing taller than me for the most part, the stalks straight and smooth, with purple tinges and the blooms are a “look alike” for my mother’s favorite white flowers: Queen Anne’s Lace. None of this stand of hemlock have gone to seed and that is the race I am in. To take all of the plants down before they make seed. When examining one of the plants, I am sure it would have taken only one plant to produce this uninvited beauty in full bloom.

Hemlock can kill you and what I kept in the back of my mind was the fact there is no antidote for hemlock poisoning. The Cleveland Clinic simply states, “Your healthcare provider will treat your symptoms, but the condition can be fatal.” It goes on to say to prevent hemlock poisoning get rid of the plants.

The plants have all now been cut down, and the process is to remove the stalks and pile them into 2 old Chevy S10s. After visiting with the Craig County OSU Extension office, the next step in the process got a bit more complicated.

All this trapped, stacked up, removed from the dam hemlock remains in the two S10 pickup beds because Hemlock cannot be burned. Too deadly. I was told it should be buried.

The basis of all prevention. Remove the harm. Until you end up with a lot of removed poison stacking up on you.

That is what is happening in the Tar Creek Superfund site. We actually have a huge mountain of the contaminated yard soil, the lead ladened soil from the playgrounds of most of the schools in the county, the remnants from chat piles too fine a material and often too contaminated to be sold for gravel. Bury it and bury more of it on top of it.

The other thing that happens to all that contaminated waste is a lot of it travels right through the heart of Miami in the water in our Tar Creek and ultimately is deposited in the great Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees. Buried there. But what is buried is not the last of it.

When the lake “turns over” those sediments with our metals are resuspended and that is why there is a fish advisory for lead in some species in the lake. And what was once buried, ends up on your plate at any number of fish-fries this summer.

So buried may not be the last of it.

It may then come back on you in the next flood. All the more reason to join with the over 1000 people who have said, WE HAVE FLOODED ENOUGH // WE WON’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. See all of your names on display in the front window downtown. And let us know if you want LEAD’s traveling exhibit to come to your business, church or the big family gathering you have planned this summer.

What doesn’t kill you, may come back to flood you.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

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