Environment: That Awful Smell

More than a year ago, the burghers of Hannêche in eastern Belgium began complaining about "that awful smell" emanating from the rusty vats stored in an abandoned sugar-beet factory. Cats died from it. Trees shed their leaves. Grass turned brown. One of the stored vats burst, and the stench, rather like the smell of decomposing rats, brought still more complaints from the village of Burdinne, six miles away. Only last month, finally, did the ministry of labor, which deals with environmental problems, get around to investigating. It found that the vats contained between 2,000 and 3,000 tons of potassium cyanide—theoretically enough...

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