Times Beach Missouri was wiped off the map due to an environmental disaster. Yet in-depth reporting and information is hard to find. This website is meant to make available some of the most illuminating reporting from the time of the controversial Times Beach Incinerator. These stories dug deeper than most about not only the cleanup, but also the history of dioxin, PCBs and Agent Orange.
Image of Times Beach Action Group Rally 1995
Photo Courtesy of Greenpeace Chemist Pat Costner
Investigative Stories and Commentary
The story of Times Beach Missouri and the dozens of related sites is what one reporter stated as "intentionally murky". Reporting on the Missouri cleanup as well as the source and nature of the contamination is hard to find since most news stories were not posted on websites. The stories below represent some of the most comprehensive investigative stories still available from that time. They help shed light on a convoluted story of agency malfeasance, and corporate whitewashing in the midst of a tragic environmental disaster.
Peter Downs three part series for the St. Louis Review (SJR) provides a comprehensive analysis of how various interests including some major media outlets attempted to whitewash the toxicity of dioxin, the Times Beach Cleanup and even presents evidence that DOD interests were possibly involved.
Carl Stelzer won a Missouri State Press Association award for his coverage of the Times Beach Incinerator as well as the toxic shell game played by various agencies regarding the nature, scope and source of the Bliss waste in Missouri.
Stelzer was writing for the Riverfront Times, and articles from that era are not on the papers website. Some are available on Stelzer's site Stl Reporter.
GUEST COMMENTARIES BY STEVE TAYLOR
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Times Beach Action Group penned a series of guest commentaries for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. They addressed not only the dangers of incinerating waste from the eastern Missouri dioxin sites, but also the history of agencies placing politics over people when it came to addressing Agent Orange, PCB and Dioxin contamination in Missouri.
Society of Environmental Journalism Presentation
In 1996, The Society of Environmental Journalists held its sixth national conference in St. Louis. Times Beach Action Group participated in the panel on Times Beach.
View the press packet assembled for the journalists attending the event at this link.
Times Beach Action Group had many press releases. This one focused on how PCBs were ignored by the EPA. It also has a timeline of Dioxin in Missouri.
This press release is cited in several books and magazine articles about the EPA, Monsanto and Times Beach.
Times Beach and Agent Orange
Times Beach Action Group's research led to investigations and a temporary shut down of the incinerator. It also led to some significant discoveries including a possible connection to the military. Below is an excerpt from a June 1998 story in the Saint Louis Journalism Review about how TBAG came upon a memo between Monsanto and the Army Chemical corps about toxic material resulting from the production of a pesticide later to be used in Vietnam, which was called Agent Orange. Reporter Peter Downs would make a freedom of information request regarding the memo with the national archives. The archive responded that there were hundreds of pages of information regarding such things as pilot projects that were created in the 1950s but classified in 1983 soon after the Times Beach flood.
AGENCY RETALIATION / SLAPP SUIT
Times Beach Action Group publicly criticized State and Federal agencies for restricting the scale and scope of the cleanup. TBAG had long suggested that the cleanup was incomplete and that more dioxin sites would be found.
Soon after the dismantling of the controversial Times Beach incinerator that prediction came true with the discovery of an additional dioxin site on a residential street.
As a result, EPA threatened a member of the Times Beach Action Group with up to a 25,000 dollar a day fine until the group relinquished its files gathered during years of research over to the agency.
While the event was reported in major media, the following article written by Dr. Peter Montague is particularly interesting since it details many of the facts uncovered by TBAG.
Whistle blower William Sanjour released a statement on the EPA's attempts to intimidate Times Beach Action Group.