In 1979 as Georgia dairyman named Andy McElmurray started applying locally produced sludge fertilizer to his fields. Over the next several years, nearly hyalf his 700 cows died from severe diarrhea. The EPA didn't test his soil, but McElmurray hired his own experts, who concluded that his sludge contained high levels of thallium. A toxic metal that is the active ingredient in rat poison, thallium rarely turns up in sewage, but it was used as a catalyst by a nearly Nutra Sweet factory. When Elmurray's experts sampled a local milk brand, they detected thallium at levels more than 11 times above the legal limit for d4rinking water. McElmurry sued the federal government for disaster relief, claiming sludge had destroyed his farm He finally won the case last year.
This disaster relief took 28 years while many areas of Texas were immediately declared disaster areas where the pieces of the Challenger fell to earth. As Linda Ellerbee used to say "so it goes."