Corporate greed and ambition combine to cover up an accident that’s poisoning beef and dairy herds in the Midwest. This is sometimes mistakenly marketed as SF.
Western Chemicals makes a livestock feed additive called AD-KEM. Now they have a drain cleaner called SOL-KEM. Workers who bag it have to wear protective gear but that doesn’t stop some of them from getting rashes. One man gets himself transferred to a safer job after another falls into the substance and ends up in the infirmary.
The assistant plant manager, Roland Putney is more interested in getting a Vice Presidency of the company than dealing with any abnormalities of the substance. The difference in shipping the chemicals are the colors on the bags. AD-KEM’s stencil is black while SOL-KEM is red. The red stencil has run out but Putney says just to use the black and the product design will let everyone know the difference.
State Senator Greg Vincent has just been elected. He’s concerned about the ecology but no one listens to him. His college friend Wade Tobias tells him that he and other ranchers are having a lot of problems with their herds dying and no one knows why. One thing in common is they all use the same feed company…one that’s supplied by Western Chemical.
Gus Ferguson at the Bureau of Ecology Standards is burying a report about the incidences of dying cattle from biologist Dr.Julia Waters of Sloan University. Since Ferguson has ambitions he agrees to keep quiet after Streeter of the feed company and Putnery talk with him.
Greg teams up with Julia to investigate. They find out about the drain additive and then the mixing at the feed company that caused the incident. They’re afraid it could spread to humans who get their meat, eggs etc. from the animals that ingested the drain chemical. Now that they have all this evidence, what can they do with it? Greg manages to get a committee formed but its members are either new Senators with no connections or a couple on their way out.
There’s no real excitement built up along the way to keep you hooked. A major flaw are the tossed in sex scenes that appear in what looks like a directive from somebody to add them because they somehow thought they would had some eroticism. Luckily they’re short but so unnecessary that it comes off as juvenile. The book had potential but just ambles along. The ending isn’t all that bad but it stretches credibility that one person in the cover up would do something really stupid. Then again even though it was written in 1981 it’s still timely.
What a peculiar-sounding book. I guess I can understand how it might get marketed as science fiction since AD-KEM and SOL-KEM seem like the sorts of things you’d see in a generic SF book about the evil corporation that rules the future, but … huh.
The genius publisher probably saw the word “chemicals” in the text and thought SF.