An Environmental Health Disaster in Our Backyard
"What we are seeing now is an environmental health disaster, slowly unfolding, as a result of poor managment many decades ago"
- Faisal Khan, St. Louis County Public Health Department, September 2015
It certainly looked innocent enough, a creek running through a Missouri town located near soccer fields, golf course and schools. It was beloved by the neighbors and the children that enjoyed their summer swims. But, the secrets that this creek held for many years have come to light and the injuries that arose from it are staggering.
The legacy of nuclear waste in the St. Louis area began when Mallinckrodt Chemical Works (which is now Covidien Pharmaceuticals) was invited to prepare refined uranium for secret work on a war project. Mallinckrodt became the sole supplier for the Manhattan project experiments and then continued to be a leader in the field of uranium ore refining during and after World War II.
When Mallinckrodt’s downtown site ran out of space to store its radioactive waste, it was transported to a site at Lambert International Airport to be stored in bulk on the open ground. Thereafter, the radioactive waste was transported from the Airport site to another site on Latty Avenue in Hazelwood, MO. Sadly, we now understand that the storage, handling and transportation spread the radioactive waste along the haul routes, contaminating the nearby properties including Coldwater Creek.
Residents of communities bordering along Coldwater Creek thought nothing of their proximity to the uranium dump site and had assumed they had only historical connections to uranium. But some perceptive graduates of McCluer North High School dug a little deeper into the unfortunate number of strange health problems that seemed to plague their hometown. With the help of Facebook and other social media tools, these perceptive residents believed there may be a pattern to the “cancer cluster” surrounding Coldwater Creek - this was just the beginning of an impressively organized community effort to learn the truth behind their Coldwater Creek.
Residents of the communities bordering along Coldwater Creek, including Florissant, Hazelwood, Black Jack, Spanish Lake, St. Ann, Berkeley and Ferguson continue their advocacy on behalf of those injured in their neighborhoods and have since filed lawsuits on behalf of those injured.
If you lived in the area and believe your cancer may be linked to the contamination, please contact a lawyer to see if you can find justice for your injuries. In addition, there are a lot of resources available to you thanks to the hard work of community activists. If you are so inclined, help spread word about the toxic contamination by sharing Facebook posts and twitter feeds - Below are just a few of those resources:
- Facebook Page – One of the most amazing parts to this story is the way in which Coldwater Creeks jumped into action when they recognized a large amount of cancer diagnoses in their hometowns. Coldwater Creek – Just the Facts Facebook page has acted as a hub for all activities relating to Coldwater Creek.
- Coldwater Creek Facts - An amazing site that contains all the research/tools that have been developed by a group of former and current residents of North St. Louis County. Of note is the "Illness Survey" that has been used to track diseases of current and former residents and the "Health Map" that was developed as a result of the Illness survey results.
- Coldwater Creek Lawsuit – Just the Facts Blog – Although no longer living in the area, the Author, Amy Schroeder Ireland grew up in Florissant, MO and still has family in the area. Amy is a lawyer and has been tracking the litigation diligently. She is not linked to any of the lawyers involved in the litigation but gives readers a “plain English” explanation of the legal events.
- Coldwater Creek Twitter Feed - Follow and share news of Coldwater Creek via the @CWCreekFacts twitter feed and be sure to use the relevant hastags to get information shared in the publicly - #ColdwatercreekSTL, #ManhattanProject, #radiationexposure, #downwinders
Below are a few recent articles examining the effects of radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project on St. Louis and its suburbs.
- St. Louis Burning: America's Atomic Legacy Haunts City, Aljazeera America, by Ryan Schuessler - April 29, 2015 (Part 1 of a 3 part series)
- St. Louis Burning: What Killed The Babies Near Weldon Spring?, Aljazeera America, by Ryan Schuessler - April 30, 2015 (Part 2 of a 3 part series)
- St. Louis Burning: A Ticking Time Bomb Beneath the City?, Aljazeera America, by Ryan Schuessler - May 1, 2015 (Part 3 of a 3 part series)