We are a group of former and current residents of North St. Louis County that began to notice unexplainably high incidents of cancer and disease in our relatively young population. In 2011, we started a Facebook page, Coldwater Creek – Just the Facts Please, to inquire among other residents.
After investigating, we learned that a local St. Louis corporation played a significant role in the development of the first nuclear weapons. Mallinckrodt Chemical Works began processing the original Belgian Congo Uranium (U235) in 1942 for the first atomic bomb at its downtown St. Louis location (SLDS). By the mid 1940’s, Mallinckrodt Chemical Works had run out of space and began to ship the radioactive waste offsite, to an underpopulated area, north of St. Louis. The offsite storage was located at the Hazelwood Interim Storage Site (HISS) on Latty Avenue and also at the St. Louis Airport Site (SLAPS). Radioactive materials were stored in bulk, on the ground, open to the elements, and unattended next to Coldwater Creek until the 1970’s. Coldwater Creek runs throughout North St. Louis County and is a tributary for the Missouri River.
Through wind, rain, flooding, and groundwater, Coldwater Creek was contaminated, providing radioactive material a mode of transportation. The area the radioactive material was stored on surrounding the creek consists of porous material and is riddled with underground interconnecting caves, rivers, springs and groundwater tables.
From the 1950’s to 1970’s there was a significant population boom in St. Louis County. With the population growth, there was a flurry of construction activity, building new subdivisions and supporting businesses. Construction grading disturbed the radioactive materials, effectively redistributing the contamination throughout all of North St. Louis County, much like spreading icing on a cake. Some of the radioactive materials that had previously been buried or contained in underground water tables, were now exposed to open air, or used as fill for newly created subdivision lawns.
Our community has been chronically exposed to ionizing radiation for decades through inhalation and ingestion. Radioactive materials stored in open piles or mixed with residential dirt, was dispersed into the wind and could travel up to 10 miles, for inhalation among the local population. Food sources were contaminated and ingested by leaching into locally grown farm and backyard garden vegetation, and local dairy supplies.
View: Chronology of Events
Today, the government has acknowledged contamination occurred and is working to clean up the area through a program called FUSRAP (Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program).
View the Record of Decision
Our community is experiencing identical cancers and diseases that the CDC (Center for Disease Control), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) has linked to ionizing radiation exposure.