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Thursday
Jun212018

Hard-won federal acknowledgement that radioactive waste in metro St. Louis creek increases cancer risks  

West Lake LandfillAs reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and St. Louis Public Radio, the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has concluded that "radiological contamination in and around Coldwater Creek, prior to remediation activities, could have increased the risk of some types of cancer in people who played or lived there." Specifically, ATSDR cited the risk for increases in bone, breast, lung, and skin cancers, as well as leukemia. ATSDR admits that even post-remediation, "more recent exposures [year 2000 and after] increased the risk of developing bone or lung cancer from daily residential exposure."

The radioactive wastes originated from highly concentrated Belgian Congo uranium ores processed, beginning in 1942, by Mallinckrodt Chemical Works in downtown St. Louis, MO during the Manhattan Project, that led to the atomic bombings of Japan. Over the course of the following decades, the wastes were later stored near the airport, and even illegally dumped, around metro St. Louis, leading to the contamination of not only Coldwater Creek, but also Bridgeton at the West Lake Landfill (see image, above). The latter has the added risk of an immediately adjacent underground municipal garbage dump fire, threatening to drive radioactive contaminants into the air supply of surrounding residential neighborhoods. These stories are told in the very powerful recent documentary Atomic Homefront, featured on HBO.  The work of local grassroots groups such as Coldwater Creek -- Just the Facts, Just Moms STL, and Beyond Nuclear's board president (and in-house pamphleteer!) Kay Drey, are highlighted in the film, for their years and decades of tireless advocacy, for full cleanup, on behalf of the families and children still put at risk by these oldest radioactive wastes of the Atomic Age.