- 2000 MAR 01 -


00-03-01          0730    Leave for HQ.  …..

            At 0830, up to Chemistry section to meet with Wendy NORMAN, Dave BALLANTYNE, and Joe BUCKLE.  A conference call was scheduled with Andy LATHEM, Vic GORMAN at the Hangar.  During the call, Peter PURCHASE and Tim WALKER also sat in at the Hangar.  The matter of exhibit analysis was discussed.  The initial intent of the call was to discuss the examination of the four plastic exhibits, and what type of analysis was to be done – 1) soot ID, 2) plastic ID, 3) melt point, 4) plastic surface analysis.  This area was left until later, and the matter of general exhibit analysis was discussed and what they could do for us.  It was determined that the lab was very short of manpower, so even though they had a mandate and wanted to perform the tasks, they were extremely limited.  However, they have done some work and have requested follow-up exhibits be supplied, but nothing has come forward.  One particular item examined was the melted black plastic on the cockpit seat cover.  They had asked for any type of plastics, particular coiled chord type from microphone, etc. that were in the cockpit.  It was agreed that this would be supplied by means of a further task, and I advised Peter to put my name on it as I had the contacts with SR Technics (Sandro SIRIU).  It was also determined that BALLANTYNE had done some work on the wire insulation and would like samples from the aircraft for analysis.  Since this involves the SEM, they will have to do it.  I advised him that I would collect wire samples over the next little while and provide them to him.  We then discussed the matter of the four plastic exhibits.  They suggested that since they could not do soot analysis, that task should go to Skip PALENIK at MICROTRACE.  Halifax CDL Chemistry can do Plastic ID and melt point as they have the equipment borrowed from CDL Ottawa.  As for surface analysis, they suggested that this was a waste of time and went to great lengths to advise that magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, etc. were key ingredients in seawater.  They also advised that no one in the CDL’s of the RCMP has the expertise to offer an evaluation of the AES process or of its results.  Dave BALLANTYNE suggested strongly that it would require a metallurgist to do this work, and that we have none.  He did note that the units of measure involved were extremely small and that we should be very cautious with this.  He also suggested that the beads would be full of cracks and fissures that could lead to deep contamination, deep being a relative term.  BUCKLE provided me a book dealing with the makeup of river water (not seawater).  Will read up on it to see if there is anything of value.

            My comment here is that BALLANTYNE is willing to offer the statement that no one in our CDL, including he himself, has experience or an expertise in the matter.  But he then is willing to offer a warning of caution when dealing with the results based on the units of measure and physical attributes of the wires.  This is offered without even viewing either the wires or their photographs.  I would suggest that these cautions, although they might be valid from a general overall scientific perspective, are groundless unless accompanied with a complete knowledge of the field.  BROWN is the resident expert who has an intimate knowledge of the science and of the physical exhibits involved, and he has expressed the concern that I have in turn related to management.  Yet some people wish to judge the preliminary findings and those warnings without any or only limited knowledge of the field.  I find it very frustrating and most unprofessional.  Let us see this through to the end.  Let us provide the test samples to try to determine the possible sources of these elements.  If there is still a question once we have exhausted those possible sources and other tests, then let us be willing to then deal with the issue.  But let us not prejudge the science, the methods, and the actual source of the elements based on hearsay and the unwillingness of others to continue to the end.

            It is interesting to note that the question was raised as to why magnesium could be located in one area of the bead but not in another, as has been found in some of the beads.  BROWN’s comment was that this tends to confirm that the seawater was not the source of the magnesium.  He is confident that the areas selected are free of cracks and fissures that would allow deep contamination by seawater.  So for that to have been the source, it would mean that magnesium would have had to be selected out of all the seawater elements at just that one point, and not at the second.  Both areas being equal, this is impossible considering the fact that the bead was totally surrounded by seawater at high pressure.  However, during its formation, the source of magnesium may have been directional and not available for absorption in equal amounts around the bead.  This is the nature of the atmosphere and particularly of smoke during a fire, as it is a physical mixture versus a chemical mixture.  By the basic chemistry definition, a physical mixture is not mixed in equal amounts throughout.  This is especially true considering the fact that a wire short is molten for only microseconds of time, while the wires were submerged for periods ranging from over a month to over a year.

            The seawater tests were discussed with Larry FOGG present.  Dr. BROWN expressed his desire to have magnesium present on one of the pallets.  I expressed the concern raised by FOGG, even though he was given the chance and did not do so.  His concern was that it would create a roadblock to further analysis should the melts absorb magnesium in any amount at all.  I then added my view, stating that we would turn the wording around for this part of the test.  We would hope for and expect an environmental cap with magnesium and would look for similarities in the aircraft wires once we have that signature.  If they are found, then one can then state that the wire was contaminated by means of an aircraft part.  If nothing of that nature is found, then the aircraft part had no role in the matter.  Actually, the test description can be the same for the other tests, as we are indeed looking for a signature.  Dr. BROWN agreed that this was acceptable.  FOGG advised that he was still trying to get the list of parts, but that near pure magnesium parts were very limited in the aircraft.  While the normal aluminium allow has about 1% magnesium, these parts will have nearly pure magnesium.  However, they have been phased out over the years in aircraft due to their inability to withstand stress fatigue.

            The technique of wire preparation was discussed.  I asked BROWN if it was necessary to have a fully stripped wire, and he stated no.  Simply have bare wire in contact with the aluminium, and a bare end.  He was asked about bead placement, could the bead be at the end of the wire?  Or does it have to be midway with the wire looped back and fastened to the aluminium piece.  He agreed that one end only need be in contact with the aluminium, and that the bead could be at the other end.  This eliminates the need to remove the insulation completely, and the need to heat the wire completely.  Only the ends need cleaning and heating.  As for the aluminium piece, it was sufficient that the cut ends and wire holes be exposed to the salt water.  This would be enough for the Galvanic current to take effect.  He said that there was no need to disturb the paint surface.



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