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The Return of the Sewer Divers
Sewer Diver

Hazmat diving may be the worst job in science according to MSNBC, but perhaps a form of ultra-niche tourism could be developed out of it.

It will be marketed to extreme adventurers no longer thrilled by skydiving or free solo climbing or locking one's head in the clasp of a crocodile's jaws and, still craving that rush of adrenalin, may be attracted to the possibility of swimming “into clouds of waste, inside nuclear reactors and through toxic spills on America's coasts and inland waterways.” Or how about a lake “full of urine and liquid pig feces” and littered with “needles used to inject the pigs with antibiotics and hormones?” A sublime landscape that must surely terrify your soul, metaphorically and, if your suit gets punctured, literally.

After their adventures, they will be told that an hour or two in these high-risk-environments-turned-diving-parks have given them an understanding of the natural and built environment greater than what they would have gotten from spending a week camping at Yellowstone National Park.

Nodding in agreement, one of them will say, “It felt like Nature was going to digest me alive.”

Illinois Wetland National Park

Speaking of sewers, fantasizing about possible Illinoises was a lot of fun, so we've been imagining quite a few more, including an Illinois in which the Land of Lincoln has been converted into a giant eco-machine treating the nation's entire sewage output.

Gone are the cornfields and the wheatfields and the vegetable fields, and embedded into the Jeffersonian grid in their place are vast constructed wetlands recycling wastewater by natural means.

Moreover, they will double as parklands — the nation's largest national park.

Everyone's shit will be piped in from every state. Even the most toxic effluent from industries will be trucked in, for there are townships specially vegetated with super-bioremediating plants and bacterium to suck up heavy metals and render extremely carcinogenic chemicals inert. Of course, the required infrastructure may be expensive and incredibly carbon intensive, but the financial and environmental costs will be offset multiple folds by this alternative form of waste management.

There will be a lingering smell in the air, but it will never get any worse than a local pig farm during a hot, muggy August day.

Sewer Divers
  • Anonymous
  • June 5, 2008 at 1:21:00 PM CDT
  • Fascinating article. I never took the time to think about the people that have these jobs. Hmmm. Protect and preserve our earth.

    Dagny McKinley
    organic apparel

  • Anonymous
  • June 5, 2008 at 3:29:00 PM CDT
  • What treatment processes are used for sludge right now?
    The (absentee) owner of the hay field across the road from my house leases it to the city, who then runs several trucks a day out all summer to spray treated sludge on the field.
    It may not be quite as bad as a pig farm in August, but it's sure close enough.

  • Quantum_Flux
  • June 12, 2008 at 12:43:00 AM CDT
  • Sounds like a megahuge project!

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