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Reports of Mystery Substances Around the World Baffle Experts

Reports of discoveries of unidentified substances keep popping up in the news around the world lately. As if the proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants wasn’t terrifying enough, this first story is enough to make you build another closet in your bunker just for extra potassium iodide tablets. Earlier this month, officials with the Washington state Department of Ecology levied a fine against the U.S. Energy Department for what they’re calling an “unidentified substance” left out in the open on the grounds surrounding the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant.

You'd think a nuclear enrichment site would be much more careful.

You’d think a nuclear enrichment site would be much more careful.

Apparently, Washington health officials warned the plant about the unidentified white powder for over two years and nothing was done about it. But you know, let’s keep dismantling the government agencies responsible for overseeing these types of things. I’m sure we’ll be fine.

See? Just fine.

See? Just fine.

Further inland on the U.S. mainland, a similar story popped up in Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. After the hurricane devastated much of the Texas coastline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported discovering 517 containers full of “unidentified, potentially hazardous material” from toxic and radioactive waste disposal sites. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tried to bury the discovery of these containers in a press release about the government’s response to the storm, but The Dallas Morning News caught the single sentence and reported on it. The EPA has not responded to queries about the material or what it might be.

Texas residents were warned about the toxicity of floodwaters.

Texas residents were warned about the toxicity of floodwaters even before the storm hit.

On the other side of the world, the Coastguard Rescue Team in Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset, England was dispatched to recover a container full of an unidentified substance which washed up on shore. The individual who discovered the container described it as a black liquid.

Ah, the wonders of the sea. Here we have the rare "bucket of black goo," native to the waters of the North Atlantic.

Ah, the wonders of the sea. Here we have the rare “bucket of black goo,” native to the waters of the North Atlantic.

The Coastguard Rescue Team issued a statement saying that identifying the substance has so far eluded their experts:

Two of our top 25 litre container experts quickly donned protective gloves and carefully inspected the item with no identifying labels except multiple languages on the back. There were no pictures which bamboozled our two experts.

What’s behind these discoveries? Lax government oversight? Intentional poisoning of the natural world? Simple mishaps? Who knows. Whatever the cause is, these stories all show that we’re likely destroying the Earth much more than we realize. I’m sure the Earth we’ll be fine though. New forms of life will probably pop up in our wake which can survive off of radiation and plastic. Humans, not so much. We’re likely doomed. Unless Elon Musk can get us off of this polluted rock as soon as possible.