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March 22, 2006

HarryTho 3/22 Natalee Holloway Commentary

Topics: Natalee Holloway

This evening, I thought I would explore the idea of 55 gallon drums being used to encapsulate Natalee's body. First, the idea of using a 55-gallon drum is not new. In the early days of the investigation, I explored the use of 55-gallon drums for an at-sea disposal in deep water. However, this evening, I will stick with dry land disposal.

Before we get too involved with 55-gallon drum discussion, let's take a look at what a 55-gallon, steel drum is:

A 55-gallon drum consists of a steel drum, removable steel top, rubber gasket and bolt ring.

Some drums can be equipped with liners:

Drum (container) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Last evening, I toyed with the idea of using a 55-gallon drum underground, submerged in the sand dunes. I gave the benefits as difficulty for a cadaver dog to detect. Truly, a properly sealed 55-gallon drum would be air tight. Here is an example of an implosion test on a 55-gallon drum:

Some readers might argue that the scent (odor) of a body would be easy for a cadaver dog to detect. As I mentioned last evening, I actually worked with these drums.

Although the above link describes burial, when the 55-gallon drums are shipped they do not contain the concrete. The concrete is added at the burial facility. However, the drums are air tight in order to contain microscopic, radioactive particles. As a comparison, the two radioactive particles of most concern are beta and alpha radiation. Beta radiation can travel some distance. It has the mass of an electron. An alpha particle does not travel far; however, if taken internally, it can cause considerable damage. In size, an alpha particle resembles a helium nucleus.

The Helium atom is the located at the top right of the chart. The beta particle is so small that it is not even listed; however, each element on the chart has one electron for each number assigned to it. For example: Neon, located under Helium on the right hand column, has a number 10. Hence, Neon has ten electrons. A beta particle is essentially an electron when it becomes detached from a nucleus. We are talking about extremely small particles.

In the article on radioactive material storage, the element of concern is Radium. On the chart, it is located on the lower left, second column. It is number 88 (88 electrons). Radium when it decays gives off an alpha particle. In the article on disposal, Radium is identified as Ra-226, the isotope of concern.

I do not want to discuss Radiochemistry 101 here; however, I want to point out that the particles of concern are quite small.

In stating the smallness of the radioactive particle, I want to point out how large the scent (odor) particles would be that emanate from a decaying body. Most odors would be made of hydrocarbons.

Simply put, hydrocarbons consist of at least one carbon atom and some hydrogen atoms. If we check on the periodic table link above, hydrogen is located in the upper left with a number of 1. Carbon is located on the right, in yellow, as number 6 (6 electrons).

Please note that on the bottom of the box containing each element is another number. That number is the element's atomic mass: hydrogen is 1, Helium is 4, Carbon is 12. If we were to just compare the mass of carbon only, we would discover that one carbon atom is larger than a helium nucleus (alpha particle) and obviously an electron, since carbon has six electrons. Without further discussion, if a 55-gallon, steel drum can contain radioactive particles such as betas and alphas, it would surely contain odors from a decaying body.

To most chemistry-savvy readers, you will think this was an unnecessary exercise. However, what I will entertain now is that given the sealing capability of a 55-gallon, steel drum, it does not need to be submerged underground or in the Caribbean Sea in order to be effective at deterring detection.

Without any odor emission, the 55-gallon, steel drum could be stowed upright anywhere. That is right! Anywhere! It could be resting in the middle of some other 55-gallon, steel drums on top of a pallet in a warehouse. It could be mingled in with other storage items near a gas station. What I am saying is that it could be right out in the open in front of everyone's eyes.

In order to assure positive sealing, if other chemicals were added to catalyze faster decomposition, a liner could be added to the inside of the steel drum.

This would ensure that the inner steel drum walls were protected from any corrosive liquids placed around the body.

Why a 55-gallon, steel drum verses a smaller drum?

The small drum is the 42-gallon oil barrel.

"The standard barrel of crude oil or other petroleum product (abbreviated bbl) is 42 US gallons (about 34.97 Imperial gallons or 158.99 L). This measurement originated in the early Pennsylvania oil fields, and permitted both British and American merchants to refer to the same unit, which was based on the old English wine measure, the tierce.
Earlier, another size of whiskey barrel was once the most common size; this was the 40 US-gallon (151.40 litres) barrel, which was of the same volume as 5 US bushels. However, by 1866 the oil barrel was standardized at 42 US-gallons.

Oil has not been shipped in barrels for a very long time since the introduction of oil tanker ships, but the 42-US-gallon size is still used as a unit for measurement, pricing, and in tax and regulatory codes, each 42(US)-gallon barrel making about 19½ gallons of gasoline."

If Natalee were encapsulated in a 42-gallon oil barrel, she would have had to have been dismembered, potentially leaving ample forensics in the area. With 55-gallon, steel drum, Natalee could comfortably have been squatted or coiled around inside the encasement. Additionally, the 55-gallon volume would have allowed expansion room for the emission of body decay gases.

A steel drum is used in order to contain the pressure created by the expanding body decay gases.

In summary, if Natalee were encapsulated in a 55-gallon, steel drum, the drum need not be hidden from the public. All this cadaver dog sniffing would have been to no avail.

Now, did they have time to bury this drum? Of course, if Natalee were encapsulated, the culprits could have taken their sweet time to dispose of the drum. A standard pickup truck would not look amiss, if a 55-gallon, steel drum were to be latched in its bed. They could drive the drum around Aruba in broad daylight. They could load the drum onto any sizeable watercraft. No one would notice an oddity with a huge drum aboard a watercraft. They would think it filled with petrol. In a 55-gallon, steel drum, Natalee could have been shipped anywhere for disposal, at the leisure of the culprits.

With Aloha,

Posted for HarryTho

Posted by Richard at March 22, 2006 8:16 PM

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