Chemical fumes, distressed animals and poisoned locals driven from their homes and worse
By STEVE BOGGAN
Aside from the times when he worried that his children might never wake up at all, Jeff Brouse remembers the worst nights as the ones when they woke up screaming. Hot nights were the most frightening.
That was when warm air would rise and the gas – hydrogen sulphide, heavier than air – would roll on down the hill to his pretty farmhouse as if heralding the arrival of some demon in a horror movie.
Then the smell would overpower them. The headaches and sickness would begin, the nausea and dizziness.
And, over and over again, Jeff and his wife Lesley would scoop up their little children, Brooklyn, then aged five, and Jackson, four, and, in Jeff’s words, get the hell out of there, far enough away as to be able to breathe.
‘There were times I was terrified for my kids,’ recalls Jeff, 40. ‘And towards the end, Lesley was pregnant and the doctor said the gas could affect the baby. We got away then, as much as we could, went down the road to my parents’ place and slept on the concrete floor.’
So what kind of ghastly chemical plant did the Brouses live next door to in Minnesota? in fact, the facility that was slowly poisoning this hapless family (and thousands like them across America) was a dairy farm. Not, however, a dairy farm as you might imagine, with cows chewing the cud or roaming freely in the fields.
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