PSwebA tanker truck containing 20,000 gallons of pesticide is traveling down a highway near Hydroville at 5:30 a.m. The truck hits a patch of black ice on a curve one-half mile south of Hydroville and overturns. Although shaken, the driver is not hurt and makes an emergency call to 911. In reporting the accident, he notes that pesticide is rapidly leaking into the adjacent drainage ditch which is located near Beaver Creek, a source of Hydroville’s drinking water.

The pesticide is identified as metam sodium, a fumigant that is applied to soils before planting to control weeds and pests. When metam sodium interacts with water, it forms MITC (methyl isothiocyanate), a volatile and toxic gas. Both MITC and metam sodium can affect human health by causing eye and skin irritation, nausea and vomiting, and injury to the nervous system.

The insurance company for the trucking firm immediately calls Southerville EnviroClean, a consulting company made up of a team of scientists and engineers, which specializes in hazardous materials removal. Students are involved in the problem by taking on the role of consultants from Southerville EnviroClean hired to remove the liquid pesticide, evaluate the risk to the citizens of Hydroville, develop a proposal for cleaning up the site, and present their findings to the Hydroville Town Council.

The video sets up the problem for the students.

Timetable for Using the Pesticide Spill Curriculum

(based on 50-minute class periods)

Introduction – Welcome to Hydroville 2 class periods
Background Activities (10 separate activities) 17-20 class periods
Pesticide Spill Scenario 13-15 class periods
TOTAL 31-36 class periods

*Time requirements are estimates



Students observe a demonstration to explore
3-dimensional nature of the pesticide spill.



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