I was teaching Med Tox down in El Paso when the Columbia went in over Texas . As an old USAFR Flight Surgeon who had also been a NASA consultan t, the Poison Center in Dallas appealed to me to find out exactly what "t oxic substances" they were putting out in the media to convince folks not t o just carry off parts of the wreckage.
The major concern was keeping "looky-loos" and souvenier hunters from scava nging parts of the wreckage so that a real big-time crash investigation cou ld be done.
It was fine if some of the "Bubba" class of the general public were convinc ed to leave the wreckage alone, but the North Texas Poison Center was abs olutely deluged with calls to the point they couldn't get their other meani ful work done.
I called in all of the last of my NASA favors (there weren't many, but th ey were sufficient). I used to supply Mission Control with a comple te tox analysis of everything, including science experiments, fuels, hydraulic fluids, etc., etc., on each STS flight.
The bottom line was that there wasn't anything on that specific flight (che mically speaking) that wouldn't have been completely thermally decomposed b y the intense heat of a failed re-entry. Maybe the "scare tactics" did keep the looky-loos" from carrying off important parts of the wreckage , so that the rest of the STS flights have been able to conducted without further disasters basded on "lessons learned".
A very, very small part to play, but at least the NTPC had the r eal skinny.
Alan H. Hall, M.D.
Maj, USAFR MC FS (Hon Ret)
Hey:Last week, (I think) I read one of these where an F-16 made an emergency landing (in Madison, WI) with hydrazine aboard. That s eems incredibly strange to me. Would anyone in the collective have an idea of why an F-16 would be carrying hydrazine? I assumed it wa s in the crew compartment but the news story was typically sketchy. Hydrazine is an ingredient in liquid rocket propellant but this still does n=92t make sense.Any ideas?Deb.------------------------------Debbie M. Decker, Campus Chemical Safety Officer
Environmen tal Health and Safety
University of California, Davis
1 Shields Ave .
Davis, CA 95616