To understand how Times Beach ended up as the bastard child of Love Canal and Chernobyl, you need to remember the root cause of most problems in the world: money. More specifically, the town didn't have enough money to pay for the roads to be properly maintained. So when drivers complained about road dust obscuring their vision, the town came up with an ingenious plan: they'd just hire a local waste hauler, Russell Bliss, to douse the roads in motor oil. And to be fair, who among us hasn't tried to drown our dirty problems in motor oil?
There was just one problem. Russell wasn't just pouring out cans of oil like 40s in memory of his homies -- he was using random barrels of chemicals that he had laying around his yard from a previous job. As it turned out, that "previous job" was working for a local mom n' pop outfit that doubled as one of the biggest manufacturers of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Whenever a construction crew trades their hard hats for hazmat suits, run the other way.
Those barrels contained huge quantities of dioxin, a highly toxic component of the defoliant that, in the words of the WHO, "can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones, and also cause cancer." Way to bury the lede, WHO.
This practice of pouring cancer juice over the streets continued for years before someone noticed that, huh, a lot of people were dying of liver failure. The EPA tested Times Beach in 1979 and discovered an off-the-charts level of dioxin contamination. Although people slowly trickled out of the danger zone, it wasn't until an outbreak of flooding in 1982 that the residents were paid to GTFO.
St. Louis Times
The local paper could recycle this headline, but for an entirely different reason.