AEC 1946

AEC Dumps Boron Trifluoride into
Lake Michigan

  During the second World War B10 was made with the use of boron tri-fluoride.

  B10 was used in counters measuring neutron emission, for hardening in"unspecified nuclear weapons", and for reduction of neutron emission (1).

  • "B10 production was undertaken in two successive steps by the Standard Oil company at Whiting, Indiana, and by the American Cyanamid Company at Stanford, Connecticut. The former facility enriched the B10 content of the element in an organo-fluoride complex, and subsequent reduction of the crystalline material was carried out in Connecticut." (2)

On January 2, 1946 a sudden decision was made to shutdown both plants.

  • "...Shutdown of both plants involved the disposition of in-process materials and wastes. The Whiting plant in particlular presented a problem in the latter respect. The District recommended and obtained authorization from the District's Engineer Office on April 3 for dumping 3000 gallons of waste, containing the boron trifluoride dimethyl ether complex, into a nearby canal adjoining Lake Michigan after no buyers had been located by the District for the material. On April 5 and again on August 2 it was recommended by the Division that disposal be authorized for 2170 gallons of similar material still remaining, either by dumping or some other method. Transfer of the material was made to the Navy on September 23." (2)

  The Navy was then in charge of dumping the material into a canal adjoining Lake Michigan which was feeding several of municipalities with drinking water.

  In 1945 the first “great fluoridation experiment” involving Grand Rapids was begun by the Public Health Service, Grand Rapids also being on Lake Michigan.

  By 1946 the nature of fluoride compounds as anti-thyroid agents were well known to the Manhattan Project scientists. Conveniently, toxicology chief Harold Hodge was then also president of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR -> Journal of Dental Research) - promoting fluoride "benefits".

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1) OSTI http://www.osti.gov/html/osti/opennet/document/rdd-1/drwcrtc.html#ZZ12

2) HREX - HISTORY OF THE ACTIVITIES OF THE MANHATTAN DISTRICT RESEARCH DIVISION, OCT. 15, 1945 - DEC. 31, 1946, Chapter IV, Page 31 link

see also: fluoroborates