Date: Fri, 26 May 95 20:05:39 PDT
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: WhiteBoardness 5/26/95
Excerpted-from: WhiteBoard News for May 26, 1995
A state toxic spill team, clad in protective gear and
scientific equipment, gingerly probed the mysterious
mound of greenish gel near an old logging road.
Already, three people had been treated at a hospital
after being exposed to the goo. Authorities, who had
characterized the unknown substance as "highly
corrosive" and perhaps life-threatening, feared the
After careful analysis, the team experts identified
what they were up against:
Diapers. Lots of soiled diapers.
"It was, uh, like an absorbent gel inside the
disposable diaper," said Brett Manning, a member of the
state Department of Ecology's spill response team.
"After sitting there for several months, it took on a
greenish appearance. It was actually the urine that
turned this color."
The pile was found earlier this week on a road near
Mount St. Helens, by two hikers. They and a sheriff's
deputy fell ill while examing the mess. All three have
recovered and were released.
Manning said that as the diapers' absorbent material
decomposed, it turned various shades of green, brown
"It was kind of strange," he said.
From basic brick shacks covering simple squat holes to
gleaming edifices of steel and chrome to "green"
designs designed to meld in with the environment, the
world's public toilets will come under close scrutiny
in Hong Kong this week.
As 45 local and overseas delegates gathered, Ronald
Leung Dingbong, Chairman of Hong Kong's Urban Council
and a man nicknamed "Doctor Toilet" for his interest in
the subject, opened an exhibition of photographs of
toilets from around the world today.
"Let me say candidly: 'What goes up must come down.
What goes in must come out,'" Chung Wah-nan, president
of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, said in a
written message to the International Symposium of
"It is what we do when it has come down or out that
requires scientific and aesthetic treatment and
deserves worldwide attention."
The symposium, which runs until Saturday, will debate
issues such as "Culture and Behavior of Public Toilet
Users" and "Revolution of Public Toilets -- The Change
of Attitude of People of Beijing." It includes field
trips to the public conveniences Hong Kong is most
Delegates agreed that there are many experiences to be
"We want to be participating in the solution to toilet
problems around the world," said Set Safstrom,
marketing director of Swedish company Dangro Sanitary
System, as he pointed with pride to his environmental
toilet that needs neither water nor a sewage
Some delegates were unabashed civic boosters for the
way their area handles the waste problem.
"You can get lesser service for lesser outlay, but the
city of London goes for first-class, quality service,"
said David Whitlock, assistant director of Wastes
Collection Services of London.
"We want our attendants to be a guide, an assistant, a
welfare worker and a diplomat, all that," he said.
© 1995 Peter Langston