While listening to Episode 32 of the Futility Closet podcast on my drive to Anderson, Indiana for Thanksgiving 2014 I heard Greg Ross mention a fact he was having difficulty checking from George Eberhart's 2002 book Mysterious Creatures.
Specifically he was curious about a cryptozoological event that I recalled from my later highschool days. The local paper had reported that a squid like creature was discovered in a pit containing toxic chemicals at Plant 9 of Delphi Interior & Lighting (which was a subsidiary of General Motors at the time) in my home town.
To put this in context, Anderson is one of those dying industrial towns in the Midwest. The city bootstrapped itself into a manufacturing powerhouse by leveraging the large deposits of natural gas that were discovered there in 1897 as cheap energy for manufacturing. They squandered the gas which ran out in 1912, but electricity soon took its place.
Many manufacturing companies lived and died in the town, but General Motors was the undisputed king. It employed 23,000 people (literally one in every three adult residents) and had factories so numerous that they were known by their numbers, rather than names. For a variety of reasons GM began to reduce its investment in Anderson, and in 1999 it pulled-out completely. As it shrank so did the population. From a high of about 70,000 to about 56,000 currently.
Anyone with any sense knew that that GM wasn't exactly being a good environmental steward. This fact was made impossible to ignore in 1999 when Guide Lamp (another subsidiary of GM) released 1.6 million gallons of water loaded with sodium thiocarbamate (a chemical reagent for removing heavy metals from contaminated water) into the White River resulting in an enormous fish kill stretching somewhere between 40 and 100 miles killing an estimated 4.6 million fish (187 tons).
But before all that there was the creature in the toxic oil pits at Plant 9. Below are the articles I pulled off the microfilm at the Anderson Public Library.
|First article: Front page continuing to page A6. Gives all the basic details.|
|Second mention in the index: The editorial board weighs in without providing new facts.|
|The environmental agencies come to investigate, but the pit has already been drained and cleaned.|
|A tabloid picks up the story. And that was everything I could find in the newspaper index. No follow up about what the environmental agencies ultimately found. I submitted a couple of FOIA/public records requests to see if we can get any more of the story.|