Your federal government has become positively jovial in addressing radioactive waste contamination in North County’s Coldwater Creek.
Upon revealing in June that radioactive waste had been newly discovered along the creek above two municipal parks and some property owned by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had this to say:
“Unless you dug it up and ate it, it’s not going to be a big threat.”
How reassuring. “Go out and play, kids: You are quite unlikely to contract a potentially fatal illness, according to current environmental standards. But remember, don’t eat the dirt.”
Another Corps official did concede the levels of lethal Thorium 230 found at the new sites exceeded the cleanup goal “by a factor of two to four.” But he, too, called that “low-level” radiation and said it posed no immediate health threat because the waste was a foot or more below the surface.
The Corps also has no plans to keep people out of the parks before remediation takes place later in the year. Why, of course it doesn’t.
The waste is the byproduct of the top-secret Manhattan Project, wherein the military contracted with companies to enrich uranium for the world’s first controlled nuclear chain reaction in 1942. One of those companies was Mallinckrodt Chemical Works of St. Louis.
Long story short, much of the waste—known as “poisons” back then—made its way to two gigantic piles at the airport. From there, it seeped and blew its way into Coldwater Creek, a beautiful tributary that winds through about 15 miles of the county, traveling through communities such as Florissant, Hazelwood, Black Jack, Spanish Lake, St. Ann, Berkeley, and Ferguson.
Today, the Facebook page has nearly 10,500 members. There have been more than 2,000 reports of cancer or other illnesses in a relatively tiny geographical area, according to the group. Some are rare diseases, such as the 37 instances of appendix cancer (more than quadruple the expected rate for an area this size); 113 cases of brain cancer; and 747 individuals with autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, as well as tumors and thyroid problems. That’s not to mention lots of reports of infertility and birth defects.