WITH THE JAMES River contaminated by the toxic pesticide kepone, Virginia authorities followed a do-nothing policy dictated by lack of cleanup funds. Fines levied against Allied Chemical, the company responsible for the contamination, had first been reduced, then managed incompetently, while the commercial fishing industry urged early reopening of the river.

Kepone, a grayish white powder, was used in ant traps and to kill potato and banana plants. It was banned in the United States in 1975, the same year that the state of Virginia closed a small kepone plant near the James River, citing workers who showed signs of over-exposure to the chemical Over-exposure first would lead to headaches, nervousness, tremors, slurred speech, muscle-twitching, poor memory, and visual disturbances, then lead to cancer, reproductive, kidney, ...

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