Remember the View-Master? Well, they are still around, made by Fisher-Price, but they are in cartoon shapes now and not so boxy. The original View-Master, like the ones I used to get every Christmas as a kid, were made right here where I live, in Beaverton OR, at a plant on Hall Boulevard. The plant is gone now, but it's toxic legacy remains and has yet to be cleaned up.
You see, it seems as though the water well on the site; the same one that everyone drank from that worked there; has 1600 parts per billion of Trichloroethylene (TCE) in it. TCE was a byproduct of the manufacture of the View-Master toy. The legal limit for TCE in water is only 5 parts per billion. Yes, 5 parts per billion and this water has 1600 parts per billion in it. That is a lot and after just five parts per billion, TCE starts doing some very nasty things to your internal organs.
Many of the people poisoned worked at this plant for twenty years or so drinking this water. They are now the focus of an advisory group that is tracking their health and looking for answers. I hope they find some.
It kind of makes you think though. That, seemingly innocuous, fun toy under the tree was not so innocuous after all. And it is certainly not so fun for the workers poisoned in its making who may develop cancer or some other ailment. And I have to ask myself. Who is ultimately responsible for this? Is it the company, ViewMaster Corporation, that made them and in doing so poisoned the well? Or, is it we who, through mindless consumerism, bought them and developed a market for this product. That is a question I can't answer. I do know we need not worry about the well being poisoned any further though. I'm sure they're made in China now.