National Geographic : 1991 Dec
a government facility in Virginia, was the first student to touch the wired drum. As he lifted its side, I heard a pop! and white smoke bil lowed out from underneath. "Kaboom!" shouted instructor Mark Ulintz. "You all fall down. You splat yourself against that truck over there. You're writhing in pain. You're dead meat!" A second team was dis patched with stretchers. Their mistake? "They shouldn't have been so impatient," said training manager Bob Ferguson. "They should have evaluated the site further before haphazardly moving the drums. But it's better for them to make mis takes here rather than later on a work site." Cleaning up the environment has become a big business in western Pennsylvania-500 firms in the region do such work. Considering heavy industry's historic role in the city, say those in the field, it was only natural that Pittsburgh should become a center for re search into handling the problems left behind. NCE RIDICULED, Pittsburgh's quality of life has become a catalyst in its come back. There are enough schools, parks, and roads to go around, in part because the city's population has shrunk by 45 percent since 1950. Eric Hoffman, a 32-year-old researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, moved to the area last year. The research challenge attracted him: He has grants to improve methods of diagnosing muscular dys trophy and related diseases. But the quality of life in Pittsburgh-lower cost of living, good schools, open space, friendly neighbor hoods -made the move irresistible.