We originated as a group of North County neighborhood kids and high school friends, mainly from McCluer North High School, reconnecting on Facebook in 2011. We noticed many of our friends, our loved ones, ourselves and some of our children were being diagnosed with unusual cancers, autoimmune diseases, birth defects and other disorders. We began this group with around 20 of us North County natives, asking each other “why”. We had no idea radioactive nuclear weapons waste existed in our community. The majority of us are in our late 30’s/mid 40’s. We grew up in North County St. Louis in the 60s, 70s and 80s (during what is assumed to be the height of the contamination). We all have rare radiation linked cancers/disease in our immediate families (our siblings, ourselves, our parents or our children).
We are not “activists”; we are not being paid for what we do. We are not a nonprofit organization, and we are not receiving funds from politicians, private activism groups, and/or donors. We are purely volunteers: a grassroots effort with no hidden agenda. Everything we do is paid for out of our own pockets, and using our own personal time. We are all parents and most of us work outside of the home. We all started out as North County kids, and most of us worked our way through high school and college, working at North County businesses such as Dominoes, Schnucks, Ponderosa on Lindbergh, lifeguard at North County Recreation Complex, Musik Park, Bradfords Bar, Rizzos, and Fabric Warehouse. Through a lot of hard work (and student loan debt), many of us went on to pursue advanced degrees in science, nursing, statistics, economics, accounting, and political science.
As we came together via Facebook reconnection and wondered why we were so collectively ill, our academic backgrounds helped us create the health survey and disease maps which mapped our suspicions and helped us dialogue with local, state, and federal agencies regarding remediation and health concerns.
We began taking our information to health officials and FUSRAP. We set up meetings to discuss the scientific information with them and began to collaborate on additional studies with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).
We are pushing for additional cleanup through the use of facts, research and information all voluntarily collected, on our own personal time. Originally, FUSRAP was not going to test north of Highway 270. Based on sharing our knowledge of flooding history, neighborhood development timeframes, and our maps, we convinced them to take and test 9,000 samples. This is why FUSRAP is finding contamination! This is why they have set a program to test the length of the creek. We communicate with FUSRAP frequently about areas we believe require additional radionuclide testing due to our knowledge of flooding history and neighborhood development timeframes. We are also collaborating with the Agency For Toxic Substance And Disease Registry (ATSDR) to conduct the Public Health Assessment.
Ultimately, FUSRAP is held to a legal document called the “Record of Decision” (ROD), that dictates where they can and cannot test. In order to modify the ROD there must be a scientific reason. All of the information we are collecting and our collaboration with health entities and government officials is what is giving us the data we need to do this. Simultaneously, we have been working with the St. Louis Department of Public Health. Our years of collaboration is what led to the modified DHSS study in 2014 showing an increase in cancer rates in the Coldwater Creek area, as well as the recent letter penned by Dr. Khan to health officials stating that we are an at risk community.
For the upcoming 2016 year, we plan to focus on additional FUSRAP testing, the ATSDR PHA, and community education. We have several upcoming meetings. As dates are determined, we will post them. We are also focusing on getting more involvement from local mayors/cities, especially Hazelwood and Florissant, as that is where current testing is occurring. As for unincorporated areas, we have been fortunate to have much support from both the St. Louis County Department of Public Health and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.
The waste preceded the population boom in North County St. Louis. When originally stored in 1946 the area was rural, with no residential housing near.
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