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Re: MORE-Re: E-M:/ Mushrooms clean up Dioxin

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of.  What happens with the mushrooms?  Dow feeds them to their employees for lunch?  

> On Sun, June 1, 2008 11:23 pm, Matthew Abel wrote:
> April 27, 2008
> Saddled With Legacy of Dioxin, Town Considers an Odd Ally: The Mushroom
> FORT BRAGG, Calif. - On a warm April evening, 90 people crowded into
> the cafeteria of Redwood Elementary School here to meet with
> representatives of the State Department of Toxic Substances Control.
> The substance at issue was dioxin, a pollutant that infests the site
> of a former lumber mill in this town 130 miles north of San Francisco.
> And the method of cleanup being proposed was a novel one: mushrooms.
> Mushrooms have been used in the cleaning up of oil spills, a process
> called bioremediation, but they have not been used to treat dioxin.
> "I am going to make a heretical suggestion," said Debra Scott, who
> works at a health food collective and has lived in the area for more
> than two decades, to whoops and cheers. "We could be the pilot study."
> Fort Bragg is in Mendocino County, a stretch of coast known for its
> grand seascapes, organic wineries and trailblazing politics: the
> county was the first in the nation to legalize medical marijuana and
> to ban genetically modified crops and animals.
> Fort Bragg, population 7,000, never fit in here. Home to the country's
> second-largest redwood mill for over a century, it was a working man's
> town where the only wine tasting was at a row of smoky taverns. But
> change has come since the mill closed in 2002.
> The town already has a Fair Trade coffee company and a raw food
> cooking school. The City Council is considering a ban on plastic
> grocery bags. And with the push for mushrooms, the town seems to have
> officially exchanged its grit for green.
> The mill, owned by Georgia-Pacific, took up 420 acres, a space roughly
> half the size of Central Park, between downtown Fort Bragg and the
> Pacific Ocean. Among several toxic hot spots discovered here were five
> plots of soil with high levels of dioxin that Georgia-Pacific says
> were ash piles from 2001-2, when the mill burned wood from Bay Area
> landfills to create power and sell it to Pacific Gas & Electric.
> Debate remains about how toxic dioxin is to humans, but the Department
> of Toxic Substances Control says there is no safe level of exposure.
> Kimi Klein, a human health toxicologist with the department, said that
> although the dioxin on the mill site was not the most toxic dioxin out
> there, there was "very good evidence" that chronic exposure to dioxin
> caused cancer and "it is our policy to say if any chemical causes
> cancer there is no safe level."
> Fort Bragg must clean the dioxin-contaminated coastline this year or
> risk losing a $4.2 million grant from the California Coastal
> Conservancy for a coastal trail. Its options: haul the soil in a
> thousand truckloads to a landfill about 200 miles away, or bury it on
> site in a plastic-lined, 1.3-acre landfill.
> Alarmed by the ultimatum, residents called in Paul E. Stamets, author
> of "Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World."
> Typically, contaminated soil is hauled off, buried or burned. Using
> the mushroom method, Mr. Stamets said, it is put in plots, strewn with
> straw and left alone with mushroom spawn. The spawn release a fine,
> threadlike web called mycelium that secretes enzymes "like little Pac-
> Mans that break down molecular bonds," Mr. Stamets said. And presto:
> toxins fall apart.
> In January, Mr. Stamets came down from Fungi Perfecti, his mushroom
> farm in Olympia, Wash. He walked the three-mile coastline at the site,
> winding around rocky coves on wind-swept bluffs where grass has grown
> over an airstrip but barely conceals the ash piles. It was "one of the
> most beautiful places in the world, hands down," he said.
> Quick to caution against easy remedies - "I am not a panacea for all
> their problems" - he said he had hope for cleaning up dioxin and other
> hazardous substances on the site. "The less recalcitrant toxins could
> be broken down within 10 years."
> At least two dioxin-degrading species of mushroom indigenous to the
> Northern California coast could work, he said: turkey tail and oyster
> mushrooms. Turkey tails have ruffled edges and are made into medicinal
> tea. Oyster mushrooms have domed tops and are frequently found in
> Asian food.
> Local mushroom enthusiasts envision the site as a global center for
> the study of bioremediation that could even export fungi to other
> polluted communities.
> "Eventually, it could be covered in mushrooms," said Antonio Wuttke,
> who lives in neighboring Mendocino and describes his occupation as
> environmental landscape designer, over a cup of organic Sumatra at the
> Headlands Coffeehouse.
> The proposal is not without critics, however.
> "There still needs to be further testing on whether it works on
> dioxin," said Edgardo R. Gillera, a hazardous substances scientist for
> the State Department of Toxic Substances Control. "There has only been
> a handful of tests, in labs and field studies on a much smaller scale.
> I need to see more studies on a larger scale to consider it a viable
> option."
> On April 14, at a packed City Council meeting, an environmental
> consultant hired by the city voiced skepticism, citing a study finding
> that mushrooms reduced dioxins by only 50 percent. Jonathan Shepard, a
> soccer coach, stood up and asked: "Why 'only'? I think we should
> rephrase that. I think we should give thanks and praise to a merciful
> God that provided a mushroom that eats the worst possible toxin that
> man can create."
> Jim Tarbell, an author and something of a sociologist of the Mendocino
> Coast, said the enthusiasm for bioremediation showed a change in the
> culture at large.
> "We are trying to move from the extraction economy to the restoration
> economy," Mr. Tarbell said. "I think that's a choice that a broad
> cross-section of the country is going to have to look at."
> At the April 14 meeting, Georgia-Pacific promised to finance a pilot
> project. Roger J. Hilarides, who manages cleanups for the company,
> offered the city at least one 10-cubic-yard bin of dioxin-laced soil
> and a 5-year lease on the site's greenhouse and drying sheds for
> mushroom testing. And the City Council said it would approve the
> landfill but only if it came with bioremediation experiments.
> So, sometime later this year, Mr. Stamets is scheduled to begin
> testing a dump truck's load of dioxin-laced dirt in Fort Bragg.
> "One bin. Ten cubic yards. That's a beginning," said Dave Turner, a
> Council member. "I have hope - I wouldn't bet my house on it - but I
> have a hope we can bioremediate this."

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