Daily Inspiration: Meet Karen Nickel and Dawn Chapman via Voyage STL


Hi Karen and Dawn, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
Just Moms STL was formed after learning we were living less than 2 miles from an underground burning landfill containing radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project known as West Lake Landfill. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t start there. Karen and so many more we were exposed to these same materials as a child growing up in North County.

This radioactive waste was moved around St. Louis like a nuclear hot potato. It was left out two and three stories high to blow all over North County, as well as seep into Coldwater creek for decades. Coldwater Creek floods into people’s yards and homes, kids have used the creek as recreation for years. Karen has several auto-immune diseases, and other illnesses that have affected her and her family and thousands and thousands of others she feels have been a result of exposure to the radioactive materials year after year. The goal of Just Moms STL is to provide education and outreach to alert others of their potential exposures, so they can take early precautions as it pertains to symptoms impacting their health.

While the federal government is cleaning up radioactive materials in Coldwater Creek, and surrounding areas… The materials have sat out on the surface of West Lake for 40 plus years with no clean-up plan. We have fought very hard for the last 8 years to get the Environmental Protection Agency to come forward with a Record of Decision for a clean-up for the materials at West Lake Landfill as they have and do pose a potential risk to our communities health and safety.


The clean-up process at Coldwater Creek has been very slow, and the decision to clean up West Lake had been moving slower than a snail’s pace. Our community has been physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially abused for years. The landfill owner funded a fake coalition of moms to fight against Just Moms STL, producing hit pieces full of lies over the years.


That being said, we would do it all over again, because it is the right thing to be doing. We couldn’t unlearn what we learned about St. Louis and the role it played in processing the very first teaspoon of Uranium that went into the Atomic Bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

We couldn’t stand by like so many others over the years and NOT say something… We are proud of our integrity, and the excruciating work we have done in order to obtain a small level of trust with EPA and this community. We are proud of the relationships we have made with our allies. We specialize in education and outreach. We aren’t afraid to have the HARD conversations.

Read more at Daily Inspiration: Meet Karen Nickel and Dawn Chapman

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