[ RadSafe ] Avweb radium instrument article (long)

Cadanau, Rod rod.cadanau at boeing.com
Tue Feb 7 17:15:25 CST 2006

An interesting followup on the cleanup of radium-painted aircraft
instruments.  A couple of minor technical errors near the beginning, but
otherwise well-written: http://www.avweb.com/news/columns/191377-1.html.

The Pilot's Lounge #96: Bureaucrats Or Radium Dials -- Which Poses A
Greater Danger?
January 22, 2006 
By Rick Durden,

This is a tale of the big bully versus the little guy. It's a true tale.
And the little guy is losing really badly. What's more, the big bully
may come after your aiplane or your museum next. AVweb's Rick Durden has
the story in The Pilot's Lounge.

One of the nice things about the Pilot's Lounge at the virtual airport
is that I get to stay in touch with some very interesting pilots. One of
my favorite people on the planet is a guy I've flown with off and on for
over 20 years. Among other things, he is considered to be one of the
gurus for those seeking knowledge regarding one of the classier of
aviation's classic airplanes, the Cessna 195. His name is Jeff Pearson,
and he flies out of the Chino, Calif., Airport, where I go as often as I
can afford it to get my big-time, historic-airplane fix. Watching those
machines snort and bellow does wonders for one's perspective on the

Unfortunately, Jeff is trapped in a situation that is so hideous and
Kafkaesque that I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. (Actually, I
would, because it's truly, truly nasty.) What is frightening beyond his
personal tragedy is the potential ramification for the entire
historic-aviation community. If some very powerful bureaucrats who have
had their way in the actions they are taking against a legitimate seller
of U.S. military-surplus aircraft instruments continue to expand their
horizons, it can lead to the condemnation and destruction of every
airplane and museum in the U.S. that has or ever had any radium-dial
instruments in it. 

Do I have your attention? 

Historic Aircraft Business

A little background is in order. Jeff Pearson moved to southern
California about 25 years ago to continue his career in the aircraft
parts business. While working for a company that sold and overhauled
instruments, he often dealt with owners of antique and classic aircraft
who needed original instruments to make their pride and joy as accurate
as possible. Jeff came to know a pretty unique guy, Alec Fulks, who had
a very large warehouse stuffed full of instruments in North Hollywood,
not far from Burbank Airport. Mr. Fulks had purchased most of these
instruments from our U. S. government as it sold them off in the massive
public surplus sales following the end of World War II. Those
instruments had originally been manufactured for the Army and Navy to
specifications set out by the U.S. government. That's an important fact
to remember. In fact it's vital to this entire sordid tale of
persecution of a guy who happened to engage in the heinous practice of
buying, selling and preserving original instruments and related
equipment for historically significant airplanes. 

Back in late 1910s -- a.k.a., the dim, dark past (no pun intended) --
aircraft electrical and related lighting systems were far less-than
perfect or just plain non-existent. In order to help pilots see their
instruments while flying at night, a very small amount of radium was
added to phosphorescent paint on the faces of instruments. The
radioactive decay of radium caused the phosphorescent paint to glow in
the dark. Charles Lindbergh sat behind military-type, radium-illuminated
instruments when he flew solo from New York to Paris. They are still
installed in the Spirit of St. Louis in the National Air and Space

Radium is an unstable element, so it is in a constant state of
radioactive decay. Eventually radium decays into lead, among other
things. As it decays, radium emits Gamma energy (radiation) and also
radon gas. Radon gives off what your neighborhood nuclear physicist
refers to as Alpha and Beta "daughter" particles. With a sufficiently
sensitive Geiger counter, Gamma radiation is detectable even through a
metal or plastic instrument case and glass bezel. Alpha and Beta
radiation is another thing. It requires ultra sensitive, highly
specialized detectors that virtually no one outside of the immediate
Nuclear Physics industry has even heard of. 

Radiation has long been linked to cancer in humans; after all, Madame
Marie Curie, for whom a measurement of radioactivity was named, died of
cancer believed to be a result of her experiments with large quantities
of radium. It has to be kept in mind that the amount of radium used in
radium dial instruments is miniscule. The U.S. government has been sued
by technicians who alleged they contracted cancers due to exposure to
radium while working on U.S. military-origin radium-dial
instrumentation. The United States has successfully defended itself in
those cases by showing that the cancers suffered by the plaintiffs could
not have been caused by radium dial instrumentation because there was
insufficient exposure to radium. 

Double Standard

Despite our government's approach to defending claims of those who
worked very closely with radium dial instrumentation, bureaucrats in
other agencies have now decided that this instrumentation is a heinous
risk to people with far less intimate contact. There is no doubt that an
instrument with a radium-dial face may emit radon gas if the case is not
hermetically sealed; that is, if the glass is cracked or the ports on
the back are not sealed. 

There is no hard-and-fast law in the U.S. for maximum levels of radon
gas, merely guidelines. For your home, 4 pico-curies per liter of air is
the EPA-recommended limit. If that level is reached, the solution is to
ventilate the area. For industrial buildings, 100 pico-curies/liter of
air is the OSHA limit. In the warehouse in North Hollywood, a site one
would certainly consider "other than residential," the level never
exceeded 100 pico-curies per liter of air, even without forced

For your consideration, there are those who feel that radon exposure has
some health benefits. I express no opinion, but I do note that our
government allows the Merry Widow Health Mine to operate in Basin,
Mont., where folks pay good money to enter the mine and be exposed to
1,300 pico-curies/liter of air. 

It just seems to me that there ought to be some definitive standards,
based on science, to keep bureaucrats from arbitrarily and capriciously
deciding that aircraft instruments are now some sort-of hideous national
menace. That is especially important when the government has asserted in
court that painting radium-dial instruments does not provide enough
exposure to cause cancer. One would think that there should be
consistency on the part of the government, especially when it caused
these instruments to be manufactured in the first place. Further,
federal and state codes specifically exempt intact, radium-dialed
instruments from regulation when in their intended use. By the same
token, radium-dial watches, clocks and even granite counter tops are

Government Production

In the process of trying to make a good-faith estimate as to just how
long World War II and the Korean War would last, and the number of
airplanes that would be needed -- as well as the number of spares
required -- our government bought far more aircraft instruments than it
turned out to need, especially during World War II. I'm glad, I'm very
glad, that we over-estimated, rather than under-estimated. It helped us

At some point our government recognized that it had far more aircraft
instruments than it could ever use, and began to sell them off to the
general public at auction. It made sense: They were perfectly good
aircraft instruments that could be used on civilian airplanes for the
predicted general-aviation boom, as well as the surplus military
airplanes being sold, and it helped the government recoup some of the
cost of designing and making the instruments. This, too, is significant.
The government not only specified how the instruments would be made,
with radium dials for night operations, but then sold them to the public
in conditions that ranged from new-unused to disassembled or repairable
"core." They also sold tons upon tons of parts that, you guessed it,
included brand-new radium dials and pointers. 

Those surplus instruments were used in the manufacture of new general
aviation airplanes well into the 1980s. I am told that a widely used,
WWII-vintage, temperature indicator is still the basis of an instrument
currently installed on some general aviation airplanes. 

At no time did our government tell the pilots and mechanics involved
with these instruments (as used by our armed forces) that there was
anything dangerous about them. Further, it then sold the instruments on
the open market as safe for use in aircraft that carried, and were
maintained by, human beings. 

Radium-dial instruments were built to government specs well into the
1970s and were sold as surplus into the '80s. My sources were not clear
as to whether such surplus sales continue to this date, although it may
be the case. 

Next Generation

By the 1990s, Mr. Fulks had a huge inventory of instruments and was
feeling his age. He sought out Jeff Pearson as a possible buyer. After
negotiations, he sold them to the company Jeff had formed, Preservation
Aviation. Preservation also took over Mr. Fulks' lease for the North
Hollywood warehouse facilities. 

Preservation Aviation became what is known as a "buyer in good faith."
Jeff's company didn't manufacture the radium-dial instruments that made
up about 5% of the inventory he bought, and our government hadn't put
out any sort of word that these instruments were about to become
persons-non-grata. The instruments were sold legally to Mr. Fulks and he
sold them legally to Preservation Aviation. 

Jeff bought some "rope." Legally. Legitimately. He had no idea that the
government was going to decide that about 5% of the rope was illegal to
own and then confiscate every foot of it and use it to hang him. 

Shortly after Jeff acquired the instruments and the warehouse lease, I
visited. I was utterly overwhelmed. It was an aviation treasure-trove. I
spent hours and hours exploring. I was a kid in a candy store. I saw
instruments from the 1920s that I'd only read about; my gawd, I held an
earth-inductor compass in my hand. Lindbergh used one to navigate across
the Atlantic. No one knows what they are today. It was as if I'd died
and gone to aeronautical heaven. There were instruments from immediately
after WWI in original boxes. I went back to visit the magic warehouse as
often as I could, even though I lived 1,500 miles away. During one of my
visits a customer came in needing period instruments for his 1943 Boeing
Stearman. The customer had the manuals for his airplane, with pictures
and part numbers of the instruments. He wanted originals. Jeff had them.
In their original boxes. Preservation Aviation was able to outfit both
cockpits precisely as they were when the airplane rolled out of the
factory in Wichita. (Once the instruments were selected, Jeff sent them
out for overhaul and calibration because they'd been sitting in the
boxes for decades.) 

Preservation Aviation acquired a reputation for being able to supply
original instruments for even the most rare airplanes. As its reputation
grew and because Jeff had to commute from his home not far from Chino to
North Hollywood, he moved a portion of his inventory to his hangar at
Chino to keep from having to go to the warehouse every day. (I was
there. Drive time for the commute was about 2.5 hours one way; if he
flew the 195 to Burbank and then used the '68 Ford Country Squire Wagon
-- which was also part of the warehouse inventory -- for the drive from
Burbank airport to the warehouse, he could make it in about 30 minutes.)

The Going Gets Weird

In 1999 Jeff called me to say that the California Department of Health
Services, Radiologic Health Branch, came to the warehouse expressing
concern about radium-dial instruments on the premises. This set a
process in motion that seems to have no end -- even almost eight years
later -- and thus far has resulted in the destruction of over one
million (yes, one million) irreplaceable historic aircraft instruments
and related parts, only a tiny fraction of which had any radium. It has
also resulted in the razing of one of two warehouses that housed the
items since the 1950s. So far, the cost of the "cleanup" has exceeded $7
million and the bill is being presented to Jeff, personally, even though
it was a lawfully incorporated company that owned the instruments. Under
the law, he cannot even protect his house and family by declaring
bankruptcy, so our government has inventoried his house and its contents
for possible seizure and sale. 

Now are you paying attention? 

The indications are that the folks who did this have used Jeff Pearson
as a warm-up to come after anyone who has a radium-dial instrument,
including museums, because Jeff didn't have and couldn't obtain the
political clout to stop them. They have already started the same
despicable process against an 85-year old surplus dealer in Salisbury,
Md., over surplus involving radium that he purchased from the very
entity that caused the material to be created and then sold to the

When the California Department of Health Services first came to speak to
Jeff in 1999, the individual assigned to the task seemed reasonable.
Jeff was told that all non-intact radium devices had to be containerized
and disposed of as hazardous waste. The DHS bureaucrat (his term for
himself) also kindly advised Jeff that "programs" existed through which
the Department of Defense (DoD) would take care of disposing the
offending items. 

That made sense. Of course, the bureaucrat's word turned out to be no
good. In a subsequent visit, Jeff was informed that all radium
instruments had to be disposed of, not just non-intact items. First Jeff
would have to complete a special training course and he would be allowed
to remove the non-radium inventory. Jeff took and passed the course. 

Jeff also contacted DoD officials, who had no knowledge of any
"programs" by which they would assume any responsibility for the
materials. This revelation was duly passed along to the DHS agent. Jeff
even suggested that DHS assist in having the DoD step up to its
responsibility for the instruments it created. 

Unfortunately, that approach to the matter of potential radioactive
instruments must have made way too much sense, because that state
inspector was immediately sent to some other assignment, to be replaced
by a fellow whose behavior almost defied description. 

This was occurring at a facility where only 5% of the inventory
contained radium-dial instruments and only 5% of those instruments were
non-intact. The radon level was below the guideline for an industrial
setting; however, because that was a guideline, the new bureaucrat's
interpretation was effectively law. There was no independent third-party
to make rulings on the bureaucrat's interpretations; the bureaucrat was
prosecutor, judge and jury and his interpretation of the guidelines
changed constantly. 

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Once Jeff had jumped through the training course that was the
prerequisite to him separating out the non-radium instruments, the
bureaucrat announced he could not do so: Jeff could not take out any of
the inventory. 

Next the bureaucrat told Jeff he was going to have to get a license to
handle radioactives. Jeff got an attorney and learned that no instrument
shop, repair or seller or museum holding or working on radium-dial
instruments in the State of California was required to get such a
license. And no jeweler, who also handles radium, was ever required to
get such a license. The bureaucrat who insisted on a license also said
it was unlikely Jeff could get one, so Jeff, on advice of counsel, did
not immediately apply. 

The new DHS bureaucrat arranged for someone from the DoD to visit. The
representative, from the Navy, took a look and said, "It's all ours." He
also admitted that the DoD did dispatch technicians to retrieve
hazardous material of military origin discovered in the public
environment and that the Air Force was going around and quietly removing
radium instruments from its on-loan display aircraft and the "gate
guardians" outside military bases. 

About then the DHS brought in the federal Environmental Protection
Agency for a walk-through. The EPA reps said that if they got involved,
things "would get ugly." It was one of the few truths uttered by a
bureaucrat during the entire persecution. 

Jeff continued to try to have the DHS work with him to have the DoD buy
back the inventory, and he went to Congressman John Calvert asking for
help. In a face-to-face meeting, Congressman Calvert told Jeff this was
something for the DoD to handle and then wrote to the DoD. The
Department of Defense responded to the Congressman by saying that since
it didn't sell the instruments directly to Mr. Pearson, it wasn't
responsible. Congressman Calvert then stepped away from the situation. 

Bring In The Feds

The DHS response to Jeff's continued efforts to have the DoD step up to
its responsibility was to inform Jeff he had to get a license or it
would turn matters over to the EPA. At the same time the DHS hit him
with a cease-and-desist order -- barring him access to the warehouse and
its inventory, even non-radium-dial instruments -- and it raided his
hangar at the Chino Airport. Jeff had to hire a health physicist to test
the Chino inventory for contamination before it could be removed. The
physicist told Jeff that in over 40 years he'd never seen the DHS go
this far overboard. 

Jeff decided to apply for the license. So the bureaucrat promptly told
Jeff that he would have to obtain a multi-million-dollar bond for
"cleanup" before getting the license. He then said he'd give Jeff time
to get the license, but meantime the warehouse was completely sealed off
and no one was allowed to enter, unless wearing hazmat suits -- for a
radon exposure level less than is allowed in industry. (All previous
entry had been in street clothes.) 

Jeff made an appointment with the DHS head of licensure in Sacramento,
who informed him that he certainly could get a license and that there
was no bond requirement. 

Before the scheduled appointment with the head of licensure, the DHS
bureaucrat apparently realized that Jeff might be able to jump this last
hurdle that the bureaucrat had erected and took action to keep Jeff from
ever recovering any of his inventory: He brought in the EPA, which
declared the warehouse completely contaminated. Then, without any
testing of the instruments themselves, they hauled every single
instrument to a hazardous waste site and destroyed them. No one, neither
the EPA nor the State bureaucrat, ever tested the thousands of historic
aircraft instruments that were destroyed. They simply said, "We believe
they are contaminated," and destroyed unused antique artifacts. Despite
being in a warehouse with a radon level below the guideline for an
industrial area, the EPA -- without compensating Preservation Aviation
-- trashed several million dollars worth of historic airplane
instruments. Only 5% had radium dials and only 5% of those were not
"intact." (The EPA admitted the quantities in writing.) 

The EPA then razed the warehouse. If you go to that block in North
Hollywood, an historic aviation site, all you will see is flat ground.
The EPA has said that the cost of their "cleanup" is over $7 million. 

Overblown Hazard

In one of the few press reports about the EPA actions at the North
Hollywood facility, the Associated Press quoted the EPA's On Scene
Coordinator as suggesting that the radium in the instruments could be
used to make a so-called "dirty bomb" by terrorists. To professionals in
the field, the suggestion was ludicrous. The notion terrorists might buy
or steal thousands of instruments, scrape the tiny amounts of radium
paint off, and put it in a bomb is idiotic. One professional suggests it
would be far more convenient -- and scientifically just about as
hazardous -- to just buy talcum powder and put that in a bomb instead.
Another said -- tongue in cheek -- that a pallet of instruments (with
radium or not) falling from a plane would be a much more dangerous

It's interesting that the original estimate to identify, carry off and
bury the contaminated instruments, and clean up residue on site, was
well under $100,000. Jeff tried and tried to have the EPA and the
California State folks carry out that plan -- that they themselves
originally proposed -- but the bureaucrats kept changing their stories,
changing their interpretation of the guidelines and lying to Jeff. The
word on the street -- and I don't know if it's true or not -- is that
Jeff wouldn't contribute anything to the Poor Bureaucrats' Beer Fund, so
any time he agreed to a cleanup procedure, the DHS increased the amount
of Jeff's inventory that would be affected until every single one of the
thousands of historic artifacts were hauled off and destroyed. 

Our constitution says that the government may not take private property
without compensation. Jeff had figured that Preservation Aviation would
take about 20 years to sell off the North Hollywood inventory and that
in that time, the total value of those instruments, sold one by one,
retail would run about $10 million. I don't know if that is true or not,
but even if that estimate is off by three standard deviations (and I saw
the staggering magnitude of that inventory) it was still about $200,000
to $500,000 a year in sales. 

Neither the EPA or DHS paid Preservation Aviation for the inventory that
it had purchased in good faith from a man who had bought it in good
faith from our government. Nope, the EPA gave Jeff, as a private
individual -- not a stockholder of a corporation in good standing -- a
bill for $7 million. 

The Thick Plottens

Because Preservation Aviation had some of its inventory in a T-hangar at
Chino Airport (mostly new in boxes or in military storage cans), and
Jeff had zero political clout, the same folks who had persecuted him in
North Hollywood came out to Chino. Except this time it was a raid by
more than 30 federal employees, EPA bureaucrats and -- believe it or not
-- FBI agents. As AVweb reported, they sealed off a row of 10 T-hangars.
Jeff had instruments in his hangar in that group of 10. The EPA also
dragged the County of San Bernadino in because it owns the airport. That
eventually proved to be valuable to the hangar tenants because the
County had the resources to tell the EPA that it was being stupidly
paranoid. Nevertheless, at first -- after testing showed a mere 20
pico-curies per liter of air of radon in the T-hangar containing the
instruments -- the EPA declared that everything in all of those 10
T-hangars was "contaminated." They wanted the six airplanes in those
hangars, as well as everything else in them -- motorhomes, cars,
motorcycles, tools and the hangar buildings themselves -- destroyed and
hauled off to a hazardous-waste disposal area. The EPA had the
effrontery to try and use the residential 4 pico-curies per liter
guideline for that one hangar and then extrapolate the "contamination"
(that was only a product of its fevered imagination) to all 10 hangars. 

The County had the clout to compel the EPA to back down and -- to try
and keep this recital to a reasonable length -- after a lot of arm
waving, the EPA backed down and finally agreed that someone actually
determine whether there was actually any contamination in the hangars,
rather than just go with the EPA's previously used "we believe" standard
for contamination. 

The County was required by the EPA to hire a company that could evaluate
the radioactive hazard in those hangars and clean it up. The County
hired a company approved by the EPA. It came in and found no significant
contamination. The EPA went ballistic and had the company fired. A
second cleanup company was hired. It went through the T-hangars
instrument by instrument at a horrendous cost and it, too, confirmed
that the EPA's assertion of "widespread contamination" was absolutely
bogus. In Jeff Pearson's inventory it found fewer than 2% of the
instruments to have radium dials. It found only seven instruments to be
"non-intact." On the floor of Jeff's hangar it found 13 spots of
"elevated" radioactivity (by the EPA's standard, not any law). Of those,
one -- count 'em, one -- had an origin tied to radium. A piece of tape
was applied to that spot and the contaminate stuck to the tape when it
was pulled away from the floor, removing that tiny bit of contamination.
Five spots were found to be Potassium 40, a by-product of deicing fluid.
The testing equipment then broke, so no one knows what the other spots
were. To the EPA's chagrin, no radium or excess Alpha or Beta particles
were found in any of the hangars. 

Several other areas of Potassium 40 contamination were detected in the
other hangars. The EPA required no remediation. 

Double Standard

Three of the six impounded planes had radium-dial instruments installed.
The EPA took no action beyond noting that they had such instruments.
Several radium-dialed instruments were found in other hangars than
Jeff's. The EPA's response to this was, "Unless the instruments in
question belong to Mr. Pearson, they can be returned to their owners." 

In the midst of all this, Jeff also contacted the office of his own
Congressman, Gary Miller. Inasmuch as Miller's brother-in-law owns and
operates Yanks Air Museum, also at Chino Airport, it was hoped that he
might be more sensitive to the debacle in progress. Miller passed on
Jeff's correspondence to the EPA and FBI, which further stirred up an
already buzzing hornet's nest. As with Congressman Calvert, Congressman
Miller's staff also declined any further effort in the matter, and Jeff
never got to speak directly with the Congressman. 

As a result, the EPA unsealed the hangars and freed the six airplanes
that were tied up for six months. However, it impounded Preservation
Aviation's entire inventory, despite the fact that less than 2% had
radium dials and none were showing any radioactivity. Because the EPA
"believed the inventory was contaminated," those instruments are in
containers that block a taxiway to this day. Jeff Pearson cannot get his
inventory back (worth several hundred thousand dollars) -- despite the
fact it passed the EPA's tests -- simply because it belongs to him and
not some other hangar tenant. 

Who Is Next?

Interestingly, as a part of this entire effort, the EPA surveyed much of
the hangar area at Chino and found measurable levels of various types of
radioactivity. It has acted on none of them. Chino was an Army Air Force
base in World War II and the storage site for thousands of surplus
military airplanes for some time after the war. Many airplanes and their
radium-dial instruments were broken up and buried on the airport and in
surrounding fields that are used to grow feed for animals that humans
eat. Further, there are two very fine air museums on the Chino Airport.
Are they the next targets? 

This is a nightmare that will probably be coming to an airport or air
museum near you. It is partially a problem with a government that
doesn't understand history: Had the EPA or DHS just wandered over to the
museum at March Air Force base, they could see a radium-dial instrument
on public display from a World War I-era DH-4. 

What is needed is some sanity and involvement of the AOPA and EAA. The
EAA, despite responding to Jeff's request for help by saying that it
does not own any radium-dial instruments, has a museum containing such
instruments and displayed some in a large photo in the August 2005 issue
of Sport Aviation (EAA's Attic). It has a vested interest in this issue
as does every museum, aircraft operator, instrument repair shop,
collector and person who works on airplanes in any fashion. There is a
crying need for reasonable and scientifically based standards for
radium-dial instruments and methods for their repair. If an aircraft or
an inventory has a radium-dial instrument, there cannot be a blanket
assumption that the entire airplane or the entire inventory is
contaminated and must be destroyed. (In one conversation, a DHS
bureaucrat said that he felt possession of a radium dial instrument
should be illegal. That seems to be just how they are interpreting the
guidelines when they apply them to aircraft components, and it is simply
an interpretation without legal support.) There is no need to overreact
to radium dial instruments; while they are a potential source of
radioactive contamination, the degree of threat has to be rationally
analyzed standards established that recognize that an intact instrument
isn't a time bomb waiting to kill off our population. 

Which Standard Applies?

Museums are more like industrial sites than homes. So are warehouses.
Industrial radon exposure guidelines should be used for collections of
radium dial instruments because people do not spend nearly as much time
around inventory in warehouses or museums as they do in their homes.
Millions of homes in this country have radon levels that exceed EPA
recommendations. The standard mitigation is ventilation. If ventilating
an area that has some excess concentration level is acceptable for
industry and homes, it should be for warehouses, hangars and museums. If
a radium-dial instrument is removed from an antique airplane, there has
to be an acceptable level of contamination established, rather than
junking the airplane. After all, those airplanes fly very few hours in a
year and people are simply not exposed to the small level of
contamination that may exist, especially if the instrument had been

The Department of Defense said, in Jeff Pearson's case, that it did not
have the budget to deal with an appropriate cleanup. In other "cleanups"
it apparently did. Jeff will never be able to pay the millions that were
incurred by overzealous, self-righteous bureaucrats, arbitrarily
enforcing nonexistent standards so the money will be paid by some branch
of the government. Therefore, it's a bookkeeping transaction and
bureaucrats at one agency trying to protect their budgets should not be
allowed to get in the way of doing the right thing. Here, it seems to
me, is that the right thing is for the DoD to buy back radium-dial
instruments that are actually a hazard and pay for such cleanups that
are actually necessary and not the result of some bureaucrat's opinion
that he "believes" there is contamination. 

Unfortunately, and all politics aside, our government doesn't exactly
have a history of doing the right thing, so we can expect more of the
disaster that Jeff Pearson went through, with the loss of irreplaceable
historic aviation artifacts simply because they were near or in a
building that had radium-dial instruments. It's already happening to the
gentleman in Salisbury, Md. How would you like it if an EPA bureaucrat
met you at your hangar and informed you that because the Stearman next
door has radium-dial instruments, your airplane is going to be scrapped
and hauled to a hazardous-waste disposal site and that you won't be paid
for your property -- on the contrary, you'll have to pay for the

The bureaucrats have already come for some of us. Unless we stand up
against them, they will keep picking us off. 

See you next month. 
Want to read more from Rick Durden? Check out the rest of his columns.
Copyright (c) 2006, Aviation Publishing Group. All rights reserved. 

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