A Holey Day

Thursday was my last day in The Hole. Since november there has been a strong solvent odor in the cave and it was so bad in December that I am sure my assistant and I would have died in an explosion had we been using carbide. The owner of the entrance found out that I had reported the chemical odor to the state DEP and boy was he pissed! I told him he had nothing to do with the chemical – it was his neighbor. That didn't matter to him. He told me I could not go into the cave anymore, not even to remove the research equipment. After a couple month's cool down time he allowed me the one trip to retrieve the equipment. So, my assistant and I hauled out about 200 pounds of equipment while on our hands and knees. I am still sore.

 I am still convinced I was right in reporting to the DEP. I was worried about the health and safety of other cavers, cave critters, and the neighbors. It is possible that the fumes could have seeped into somenone's basement and caused some deadly fireworks. But, the owner is a retired coal executive and he is upholding the stereotype for that breed of person – no respect for the environment or the lives of others.

It was a good run of 16 years of research in The Hole. I have a huge water quality and hydrology data set. Actually, I have been considering getting out of the cave anyways because I was concerned about the impact our frequent visits were having on the cave.

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