January 29, 2013
Back in September I filed a report on the research of a local sociologist named Lisa Martino-Taylor. Through FOIA requests she discovered in the early 50s and mid-60s that black residents in St. Louis, MO living in the Pruett-Igoe Complex were being sprayed with radiologicals without their consent. Within her findings she discovered that there was a direct correlation between the military, US Radium, and the Manhattan Project. The specific sub-branch of these experiments was the Manhattan-Rochester Coalition; which was in operation here locally.
A couple weeks after publishing my article, a local activist got me in contact with an internet group called “Coldwater Creek – Just the Facts Please” where I met a member named Jenell Wright. Through a series of messages and studying several notes and documents within the group I saw a connection with the secret experiments being conducted on low income families within the city and the disease clusters in the county.
Despite seeing a connection between Martino-Taylor’s research and the Coldwater Creek’s collection of data, I wanted to attend a public meeting on this local problem. Meanwhile, as I compared historical resources, I observed that after various experiments were conducted (including the ones done on the Pruett-Igoe Complex) by the Manhattan-Rochester Coalition, the radioactive waste was sent to be stored and dried out in a facility off of Latty Avenue. Early on the people processing this waste didn’t even wear protective gear and it wasn’t until while later that the federal government came in and changed their approach.
By the early 70s the government decided the best way to dispose of the radioactive waste (composed of plutonium, uranium, and thorium) was to illegally dump it in the Missouri River floodplain and similar sites that would later leach into the water supply. They provided no protective barrier from the waist to the groundwater and in most cases it was just on the surface. As it stands now, the third site is buried under a fairly shallow layer of dirt and guarded by a fence that could easily be scaled by anybody determined to get inside.
Since that time, many people who were unaware of such operations developed residential areas around the radiological sites. Still others were exposed in a more indirect way by the waste being carried through the air and water to more remote places. In 1993 some of the areas would experience one of the worst floods in St. Louis history and pictures during that time from Latty Avenue prove that the waters were clearly exposed to radiologicals.
The early 90s would also be a time of a somewhat quiet cover-up of the contaminated areas. In fact, I heard at the Coldwater Creek St. Louis oversight committee meeting on November 8, 2012 a Florissant resident relayed a story about men in hazmat suits covering all the canals with concrete. The very presence of men with suits laying concrete in areas the government knew were exposed to waste can only lead one to be more suspicious of such activities.
As a result of a half century of exposing people to nuclear waste, many people from these areas either know people who are sick or have died from rare cancers. Many of these people are sick or dying themselves. But it’s not just one in 1 million cancers that people are affected by but multiple cases of lupus on the same block, many cases of conjoined twins, and other neurological issues being recorded in clusters. A map developed by members of the “Coldwater Creek – Just the Facts Please” group shows that these clusters are indeed downstream from the radiological sites.
Moving forward to a more recent meeting on January 17, 2013 the EPA wanted to bring a presentation to the people of Bridgeton, MO concerning the West Lake landfill (i.e. the third site). After years of cleaning up the other two radiological sites, their solution to the people of Bridgeton was to merely “cap” the landfill. The presentation that the EPA brought forth was clearly a whitewash and the nearly 300 people that attended knew it was as well. In fact, I believe that this was the whole point of downplaying the site so they could execute a “cheap” solution.
I must admit that I was pretty impressed with how the public addressed the EPA in the open mic session. Ed Smith, Safe Energy Director at MCE, gave a salient case against Dan Gravatt’s explanation of the data. Gravatt, by the way is the Remedial Project Manager of the EPA who presented the agencies findings. Similarly, Dr. Bob Criss, who is a professor at Washington University specializing in geochemistry and the Missouri River, debunked the EPA’s 45 minute presentation in a matter of 7. I was also inspired by the Teamsters and knowledgeable residents of St. Louis County who have been affected by the nuclear waste. They all came out strong and well informed on the specific subject that they addressed towards the EPA.
Unfortunately the fight for a clean environment and compensation for the victims, at the time of this writing, is still ongoing. I don’t feel that I have gave this subject the attention it needs but I hope the reader will research this further and get involved no matter what part of St. Louis you live in. My goal is to continue to go to these meetings, make further connections with other cases, and expose the government for who they really are. I know as more attention is brought to this issue, the more heat will be applied to them. Despite the federal government’s ever encroaching power, the people of this country still have the ability push back if we desire to do so.