January 5, 2010

Valley Forge? Broken Cars and Asbestos


I won't go into detail, but I will say that our day trip to Valley Forge didn't go as planned. And yes, we did get the lecture on "what it costs to fix this could be a down payment on a new car." :D Valley Forge was the winter encampment site of George Washington's army in 1777. Andy and I like to go there on picnics and to take pictures. This is the only picture I got to take that day. 


As goods get cheaper to make and buy, we are constantly deciding whether or not we should get something fixed, or buy a new one. I think currently we have to take into consideration the amount of waste that buying new creates. Many people throw out their old things and never think twice about them; but these things create heaping piles of waste. Cell phones are constantly being updated and everyone probably knows one person at least who insists on having the newest cell phone or computer. This electronic waste can be recycled to a point, but many people just stick it in the trashcan. It also produces toxic chemicals when it is burned. Did you know that a lot of our outdated electronics (even those collected back by the manufacturers) are dumped in third world countries, where children melt them down (despite toxic gasses) to extract the metals to sell to foreigners for a few cents? There is a good photograph with this article on e-waste.


Waste wasn't such an issue in the 1700s because goods were relatively expensive. Things were normally cheaper to fix, so people fixed things until they were useless. People even fixed broken pottery that they used to cook with and eat with. Most products were made naturally and reacted naturally in the soil when they were discarded. The industrial revolution and the scientific chemicals created in the mid 1800s was the start of chemical waste. The 1870s started the mass destruction of natural resources which still continues today. People continued to get their electronics repaired up until the 90s, only recently has it been cheaper to buy new. 



Excerpt from the American Agriculturist (1870):

Mending Broken China, Etc.
              In the first place, take excellent care of the pieces of any broken dish or vase. Do not handle the broken edges, or allow them to become dusty or greasy, but lay them carefully away, and do the mending as soon as possible after the breaking. The best cements often fail because the parts united by them are not clean.
            Another general rule for all kinds of cement or glue is this: Make the layer of cement between the parts as thin as it can possibly be, and yet entirely cover the edges. A very thin layer is much stronger than a thick one. Where the shape of the pieces will allow, rub the edges together after each has been smeared with the cement, so as to even and work it well together. Press very closely, and keep up this pressure (usually by tying the parts together) until the cement is dry. Those cements dry most quickly which are applied hot. If the directions with your cement say “hot,” do not fall short of it and only warm the pieces.
            An old and well-tried way of mending broken glass and crockery still remains in excellent favor, and is well worth trying by housekeepers who can get plenty of milk. Dishes badly cracked should be set away until they can be boiled in milk. Those broken apart should be tied firmly together, and boiled gently in carefully skimmed milk for an hour or so, Leave them together for several days before using, and they will be found almost good as new. The milk should be cold when the dishes are put in to boil, (145.)

*Note: The photo of the fox was taken last time we went to Valley Forge--we didn't get there this time. Valley forge has a lot of wildlife (most of it not so wild) deer practically walk up to your car and foxes normally aren't out during the day, but it does offer a place for beautiful photography and has a very nice museum and park rangers will give you free tours. George Washington's headquarters is a beautiful house, if you can get out there, it is worth a visit. Valley forge is also plagued with asbestos due to the chemical waste from an insulation manufacturing plant that was there from the 1890s the the 1970s. The infected areas are currently off limits but will reopen despite the threat due to the lack of funds to remove the contamination. You can see these danger signs all over the park.

A good article on this is Officials Explore Asbestos Clean-Up
More on Valley Forge National Historical Park 





6 comments:

  1. Being only a few miles away from Valley Forge when I was in school at Cabrini College (we were right next door to the military academy itself and our campus was connected to it by some footpaths) I got to visit Valley Forge more than a few times. My friend Rich has a fence across his backyard and on the other side of the fence is Valley Forge park. A couple times local people told me it was fun to sled on one of the hills in the park in the winter, I drove up there with my sled but either the park was closed, or such a hill didn't exist (or at least we couldn't find the steep one the people talked about).

    But anyway the point of my 2-years-late post is despite having been there a lot, I never once noticed the asbestos warning signs. And the park staff and maps didn't indicate where those dangerous areas were.

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  2. I don't think Wannabe is oblivious. I've know for years that there is an asbestos pile in VFNP because I work for an environmental agency. I routinely run and bike all over the park, and I never found the asbestos pile until just recently when I specifically went looking for it.

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  3. He and I are good friends and oblivion is how he likes to live his life. :)

    I was referring to the fence full of signs near the water that runs along County Line Road.

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  4. I drive through VF Park everyday and I thought the asbestos clean up was what they were doing. Why didn't they just put some more dirt over it and say "don't dig here". What they are doing seems like a waste of money.

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    1. I'm not sure they ever got enough money to do anything with it. I think they might just be taking the signs down and hoping it doesn't cause problems.

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