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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living On Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about... An infamous garbage barge incident.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.

(Music up and under)

CURWOOD: Ten years ago the world's most famous load of garbage began an unintentional international tour. A barge containing 32 tons of trash from New York City was turned away by a North Carolina landfill for lack of proper permits. So began a 6,000-mile, 155-day trip for the garbage scow. Officials from Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Belize, and the Bahamas, all refused to accept the cargo. They feared it contained hazardous waste. At each stop the barge gathered more attention, becoming fodder for news reports and comedians. Some public officials said the fiasco helped to convince the public that garbage disposal is a growing problem. Brendon Sexton, then New York City's sanitation commissioner, proclaimed, "That's one small barge for New York City, one giant bale of garbage for mankind." The barge finally landed back where its journey began, its cargo disposed of in a Brooklyn incinerator. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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