By Dan Shapley
Toxic Smoke Plume Spreads For Miles
Thousands of people were evacuated from Valley Center, Ks. (pop. 6,000) after an explosive fire at a solvent distribution plant sent toxic smoke billowing into the air for miles around yesterday. Chemical solvents are high on the list of cancerous, toxic compounds that end up fouling the water and air in Superfund sites around the country when they are mishandled. Here, a mother lode of as many as 650,000 gallons housed in a single complex -- Barton Solvents Inc. -- burned simultaneously. The resulting toxic cloud is filled with a stew of toxins, as the various chemicals volatilized, interacted and formed new compounds in the air. Medical experts worried over the fallout.