The whole country was concerned over the crash of a tanker truck full of hydrofluoric acid near Wind Gap, causing the evacuation of thousands.
Our daughter called from Tennessee to make sure we were all right after it was a top news item there.
My reaction, once I learned there was no significant spill of the chemical, was that maybe this incident will, at long last, focus attention on the biggest fraud ever perpetrated by U.S. government officials.
The hydrofluoric acid in that truck had been made in Ontario and was on its way to the Philadelphia area to be used to refine gasoline.
Sunday’s account said this chemical can cause various problems, including death, and is used to make refrigerants, herbicides and other things in addition to gasoline. It did not mention its most controversial use.
Hydrofluoric acid is used to make ”hex,” or uranium hexafluoride. Millions of tons of hex were needed in the 1940s to enrich a few pounds of weapons-grade uranium for nuclear bombs.
After World War II, the main concern was what hex had done to farms near a du Pont plant that made fluorides for the Manhattan Project, and how to get rid of the nasty toxic waste.
The feds concocted a gigantic hoax to convince Americans they needed fluorides in drinking water. Reports about that hoax have been pooh-poohed for years, including what I wrote about it in the 1990s.
Now, however, official reports have been declassified and a 2004 book tells essentially the same story.
I always had an interest in this issue because I once worked in the Manhattan Project — then going by a new name. Intense secrecy surrounded such work, but now you can learn most of what I knew about nuclear weapons at a public library.
Here is how the hydrofluoric and hex hoax evolved:
In 1943, farms in Gloucester and Salem counties in New Jersey were contaminated by du Pont fluorides being made for the Manhattan Project. Crops were damaged, animals died and people became ill. After the war, some farmers sued.
To deflect lawsuits, the government had the University of Rochester study the toxic effects of fluorides, but the labs there were owned by the Manhattan Project and headed by the late Harold Hodge. They proclaimed fluorides to be beneficial for tooth decay.
Meanwhile, another study looked into the health of workers producing hex. A secret report disclosed that the workers lost all their teeth, but the version released to the public said only that workers now had fewer cavities. It would be comical if not so sinister.
The first push for fluoridation of water was in Newburgh, N.Y. After checking results, the American Dental Association proclaimed fluoridation to be safe. And who performed that research? Why, it was Hodge, who was up to his ears in Manhattan Project money from the Rochester scam.
Obviously, if the ADA ever admitted its role in a half-century of deceit, it would destroy that organization’s credibility, so it still sticks to the same story.
Since my days of working on nukes, nearly all the information has been declassified, and two publications have been especially damaging to those seeking to keep the fluorides fraud going.
One was a 1997 report called ”Fluoride, Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb” by medical researcher Joel Griffiths and journalist Christopher Bryson. In 2004, Bryson wrote a book called ”The Fluoride Deception.”
Those and other materials, including objective research (never done in the United States), reversed the trend to fluoridate water in most advanced parts of the world. Besides America, only Australia and a few other nations still push fluoridation. Most of Canada and Western Europe have come to their senses.
The world is full of toxic chemicals and some are useful. I support the use of fluorides in manufacturing, despite the risks. We need them to make aluminum, fuel and other products.
The accident near Wind Gap, however, may help illustrate why we need to question the value of putting poison in public water — just to perpetuate more than a half-century of lies.
Paul Carpenter’s commentary appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.