Monday, October 16, 2017

The Golden Sewer


Long ago, when I was a lowly Second Lieutenant in the Air Force stationed at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, Louisiana, one of my numerous* additional duties was "Wing Silver Recovery Monitor." It involved collecting and securing the exposed radar film from the wing's training missions, and delivering it once a week or so to the local DRMO (Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office) so that it could be processed to recover the silver it contained as a result of the developing process. This was a not-overly-onerous duty that had the benefit of getting me out of the office for an hour or two, although I was never particularly convinced that the amount of film I turned in (a few pounds at a time) contained enough recoverable silver to reimburse me for the gas I needed to drive to the DRMO**.

I hadn't thought about my days in silver recovery for a long time, at least until I ran across this recent story: How $1.8 Million in Gold Flowed Through Switzerland's Sewers.

Wow!

According to the story, an estimated 95 pounds of gold worth nearly two million dollars laces Switzerland’s waste water from the refineries that process about 70 percent of the world’s gold. The discovery was made by environmental scientists monitoring levels of trace element contamination in sewage sludge*** at various locations in Switzerland. Here's the bottom line:

"While the scientists advise that, for the most part, it’s not economically worthwhile to recycle many of the trace elements found, the region of Ticino is a different, gilded ballgame. This area is home to several gold refineries and, at certain sites, the scientists write, 'concentrations of gold in sewage sludge are sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile.'"

Somehow, I can't see a bunch of grizzled old sourdoughs leading pack mules into the Swiss Alps to pan for gold in sewage sludge. And I'm not sure I'd like to have the additional duty of Gold Recovery Officer in any of those locations.


At least in Switzerland, it could be a pretty shi ... uh ... unpleasant job.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

* When you're a Second Lieutenant ... and particularly when you're the junior Second Lieutenant ... you can count on drawing every additional duty no one else wants. Which is most of them.

** Ha, ha - fooled you! I didn't get reimbursed, anyhow.

*** This is another reason why it's better to be a linguist than an environmental chemist.

6 comments:

eViL pOp TaRt said...

That is a neat story, Bilbo! You were part of the Great Louisiana Silver Rush! That's a story for your grandchildren.

There's an old country song that can be reworked: "All the gold in Switzerland, is in a bank in someone else's toilet."

Mike said...

You would think the refineries would have a recovery process before they did a dump.

roth phallyka said...

"All the gold in Switzerland, is in a bank in someone else's toilet."


เย็ดสาว

allenwoodhaven said...

Who knew? Certainly not me. Very interesting!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Intriguing. Those wacky Swiss.

roth phallyka said...

That's a story for your grandchildren.


gay