Missouri runaway nuclear landfill fire

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UPDATE - New lawsuit from West Lake Landfill owners targets Citigroup in quest to bring more groups to "the table" during cleanup (U.S. Dept of Energy & Exelon already named)
By Bryce Gray St. Louis Post-Dispatch Nov 8, 2018

11:19 PM Oct 28, 2015 | 432

North St. Louis County, Missouri

Bridgeton fire at West Lake nuclear landfill

-8734- Child cancer clusters, double sets of teeth, missing eyeballs, brain tumors

-8734.1- also see: Missouri, St. Louis, Bridgeton and West Lake landfills: Fire erupts by nuclear waste landfill near city (PHOTO & VIDEOS)

-8734.2- also see: Missouri, St. Louis, Bridgeton and West Lake landfills: Fire rages towards 48,000 tons of Belgium Congo uranium 235, 238, most potent in the world

-8734.3- also see: Missouri, St. Louis, Bridgeton and West Lake landfills: Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal - we’re looking at the cancer clusters in North County, number of children with double sets of teeth, missing eyeballs, brain tumors - this is not consistent with a normal community, at all - VIDEO -at 27:00 in

-8734.4- also see: http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/breaking-it-down-renewed-concerns-over-radiation-bridgeton-landfills (video-at 27:00 in)

-8734.5- also see: St. Louis, Missouri - Bridgeton & West Lake landfills: underground fire at Bridgeton Landfill moves toward radioactive waste in the adjacent West Lake Landfill


Missouri Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, Sep 17, 2015 (at 27:00 in): There are references that are in the reports that the Attorney General did with independent scientists where they say that what we have under the ground could end up as Chernobyl. What I am concerned about are the 40,000 tons of uranium that have been spread all over the place… We’re talking about the most potent uranium in the world… We’re looking at the cancer clusters… We’re looking at the number of children who have double sets of teeth, children who have missing eyeballs, the number of children who have brain tumors. This is not consistent with a normal community whatsoever.

[1] Excerpt: Jenell Rodden Wright gets a chill when she recalls the 20-year reunion she attended for the McCluer North High School class of 1988, less than five years ago.

It’s amazing to think about it now, she says. Everything was normal. Everyone seemed healthy and happy. We were all fine.

That’s not ordinarily what stands out to people about their high-school reunions. But it turns out that there was nothing ordinary about the McCluer North class of ’88. In just a few short years after that normal reunion, not so much would be fine.

Not after Kathy Bindbeutel Broyles developed a brain tumor and died a few months later, at age 40, leaving behind four children. Not after Kathy Jones, mother of five adopted special-needs kids, died of uterine cancer at age 40. Not after friends Kerry and Steve contracted appendix cancer, and Scott got a brain tumor, and Diane was diagnosed with nonsmoking lung cancer-all in the course of a couple of years.

These friends from the neighborhood where Wright grew up and went to high school were not random cases of bad luck. And they were by no means isolated cases in North County. They are but a microcosm, part of an untold number of people afflicted by their own government in an area that realistically must today be termed a cancer cluster.

These were the children of Coldwater Creek, a picturesque tributary through about 15 miles of the county, spanning communities such as Florissant, Hazelwood, Black Jack, Spanish Lake, St. Ann, Berkeley, and Ferguson. It runs past schools, golf courses, and soccer fields.

The creek was once a thing of beauty, to be sure. But there was one problem that the residents knew nothing about: Some of the deadliest toxins known to man had been dumped into Coldwater Creek.

Over seven decades, home sweet home has doubled as a hell zone of water, soil, and air contaminated with treacherous substances like uranium-238 (with a half-life of 4.5 billion years) and thorium-232 (with a half-life of 14 billion years). The residents have paid a ghastly price, and the contamination may continue to plague future generations.

It all started with the famous Manhattan Project, as St. Louis’ Mallinckrodt Chemical Works secretly signed on to enrich uranium for the world’s first controlled nuclear chain reaction in 1942. For 15 years, the company would continue its uranium-refining activities at its downtown site, and when it ran out of room to store its tons and tons of hazardous waste-known in the day as poisons-it was off to a couple of sites near the airport.

Reportedly, not even the people assigned to transportation duties had any idea of what they had on their hands. It was inevitable, between the hauling and the storage, that Coldwater Creek and neighboring properties would become contaminated beyond anyone’s comprehension. Nothing could have been more irresponsible.

We have the oldest radioactive waste of the atomic age, says Kay Drey, the grande dame of local environmentalism. And there is no place on the planet to put this where it won’t impact our air, our water, and our lives. There is no solution.

For most of the past seven decades, authorities didn’t appear to make a serious effort to get rid of the waste, and as Drey points out, even moving it off to Utah or some other less-populated area is no panacea. In recent years, the government has made a fair amount of cleanup progress, but as recently as late April, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicated that there is more testing-and more removal-to be done.

Obviously, removing all of the toxins from a highly populated area ought to show up prominently on the government’s radar screen, though that doesn’t seem to have been the case for much of this sordid history. But even if that were to happen-even if every last ounce of radioactive waste were to be gone-that wouldn’t end the problem.

You see, there’s a real-life crisis going on right now: After a long latency period following their exposure to ionizing radiation, a stunning number of people have reached the presentation stage of their diseases.

That means we’re seeing symptoms in the generation of children who enjoyed the outdoors by playing in or near the water and otherwise exploring the lethal banks of Coldwater Creek. They skipped rocks, played with crawdads, and mixed yellow dirt with water to pan for gold.

When the creek would flood-which happened quite a bit-the water would seep into their families’ gardens and basements. And there was always the prospect of wind blowing thorium dust off the piles of radioactive waste and into the air breathed by the kids and their families.

And now, for a new generation, the symptoms are arriving. Most of the cancers appear to have popped out in just the last few years, says Wright. We are not even in full bloom.

A Facebook group called Coldwater Creek-Just the facts Please was created by a McCluer North grad in 2011, about the time many young North County residents were becoming gravely ill or dying. It has grown to more than 7,200 members, whose heart-wrenching stories seem endless.

Wright, an Ernst & Young certified public accountant and corporate executive before retiring to raise her children, joined the Facebook group shortly after it was established, as did another McCluer North grad, Diane Schanzenbach, an economics professor at Northwestern University. They are serious numbers crunchers who were struck by the statistical improbability of what they were seeing.

Members of the page have reported more than 2,500 cases of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and birth defects. The numbers spiked earlier in the year, after KSDK-TV’s Leisa Zigman aired some compelling coverage of the situation. At press time, those numbers hadn’t been fully updated.

But even the partial numbers are stunning. The data contains more than 100 reports of brain tumors and cancers, more than 50 cases of thyroid cancer, and more than 30 cases of appendix cancer-a stunning number, considering it’s a rare disease affecting fewer than 1,500 people annually.

There are dozens of cases of leukemia, multiple sclerosis, and lymphoma. There’s amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, pancreatic cancer, and more.

Wright says there are a stunning number of reports of infertility, in addition to the birth-defect cases. There have been three separate cases of conjoined twins (a statistical anomaly if ever there was one). There were three babies born with only one ear, another without either eyeball.