The Scientific Management of Hazardous Wastes



According to the jacket of this book, three independent scientists carefully define the limits of scientific knowledge applicable to the management of hazardous wastes. It is claimed that the extrapolation and application of this knowledge is examined, significant areas of uncertainty are identified, and the authors reveal “the fallibility of certain interpretations.” It would be more accurate to claim these as possible goals of the book rather than its accomplishments.

Chapter 1, Hazardous Wastes and Their Recycling Potential, includes 11 pages of lists of chemicals, some of which are poorly reproduced. The remaining pages describe, superficially, several recycling schemes. Connections between the chemicals previously listed and the recycling schemes are not given. Concerning the potential for recycling, the last sentence of the chapter reads, “Indeed, the concept of waste recycling, itself a contradiction in terms, is better politics than business.” Taken literally, this assertion itself contradicts venerable practice, as the farmer might observe as he transfers waste from his cows to the crops in his field. More pertinently, it can be argued that the recovery of solvents, metals, and oil from waste flows is much more than a political gesture.