First Report:

By Leisa Zigman

ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KSDK) – There are radioactive secrets beneath the banks and waters of a north St. Louis County creek that may be linked to a staggering number of cancers, illnesses and birth defects. In four square miles, there are three reported cases of conjoined twins and cancer rates that one data expert says is statistically impossible.

About two years ago, Janell Wright and several of her class of ’88 McCluer North High School friends started wondering why so many of their peers were battling cancer.

“Where it got to be suspicious is when we had two friends diagnosed within a couple of months of each other with appendix cancer. And both people were told that is a one in a million cancer,” said Wright.

Wright, an accountant and former auditor, started collecting data from her classmates. Soon, peers from neighboring schools reached out too.

“On Facebook, it just took off like wildfire. People started reporting their cancers and auto immune diseases,” Wright said.

At first she found 30 cases. Within two months, she had data on 200 cases. Now, her maps have more than 700 cases in four square miles, including:

62 brain cancer cases
27 leukemia cases
26 lung cancer cases
24 multiple sclerosis cases
15 lymphoma cases
10 pancreatic cancer cases
3 conjoined twins

Wright became equally alarmed when data showed some of her classmates’ children had serious medical problems too.

“The children usually came down with brain cancer in the first 15 years of life, in addition, leukemia. In my peer group’s children, there were several children who had to have their thyroid removed before they were 10-years-old,” she said.

Strange coincidence or was something else at play? Another classmate, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, is an economist at Northwestern University. She ran her own analysis and found the likelihood of so many cancers among her high school peers was .00000001. Schanzenbach called it a statistical improbability.

Connected by Facebook, high school, and illness, the classmates made a startling discovery. The creek where they played as children carried a secret.

In the 1940s, Mallinckrodt Chemical Works in downtown St. Louis purified thousands of tons of uranium to make the first atomic bombs. But the process also generated enormous amounts of radioactive waste. Sighting national security, the government quietly ordered the material moved to north St. Louis County in 1947.

Twenty-one acres of airport land became a dumping site where a toxic mixture of uranium, thorium, and radium sat uncovered or in barrels. In the 1960s, government documents noted contents from the rusting barrels were seeping into nearby Coldwater Creek. And by the 1990s, the government confirmed unsafe levels of radioactive materials in the water.

“You’re having to grasp this idea that something was wrong. Nobody knew about it. Our parents didn’t know, nobody knew,” said Wright.

Read the Full First Report Here:–

Second Report:

Homeowners lose faith with EPA over West Lake Landfill

The majority of St. Louisans who get their water from the Missouri River have most likely never heard of the West Lake Landfill, but they should.

Since 1973, 8,000 tons of nuclear waste has been decaying at this landfill with no protective liner to separate it from ground water.

To understand the depths of concern, just look at the faces of those who wanted EPA officials to hear them.

“I am sicker than a dog,” said one resident who lives near the landfill.

Karen Nickel, who battles lupus, believes she too is sick because of the nuclear waste dumped at the West Lake Landfill nearly 40 year ago.

“West Lake especially is a ticking time bomb right now,” said Nickel.

The origins of the waste date back to the Manhattan Project and the creation of the first atomic weapon. Enormous amounts of uranium were purified at Mallinckrodt Chemical Works in downtown St. Louis.

The process generated piles of nuclear waste that the government sent to disposal sites near the airport. In the 70s, about 8,000 tons of uranium, thorium, and radium were dumped at West Lake.

“This stuff has been sitting unprotected, not covered, no liner, and no barrier,” said Nickel.

West Lake sits on a flood plain. That is why so many people who live and work near the landfill say everyone in the region should be concerned.

Nickel explained, “300,000 people get their water from the intake at the Missouri River, eight miles from here and it flows in that direction.”

“It’s wet, high groundwater table, people nearby. It’s really stupid. It’s a stupid place for it,” said Bob Criss, a geo chemist at Washington University.

He said few things are as absurd as burying this waste in a substandard landfill, in a floodplain, in an urban area.

In 2008, the EPA recommended putting a cap on the landfill and covering the nuclear waste with clay, rocks and dirt. The problem according to Criss is that this stuff gets more radioactive over time and stays toxic for billions of years. There was such public outrage in 2008, the EPA decided to conduct more studies.

The latest tests, made public two weeks ago, show 25 wells are contaminated with high levels of radium.

“People are not drinking the water that has the low levels of radium at this time. What about air, what about breathing it in? The radon comes out of the ground everywhere. It is naturally occurring. It does come out of the ground a little bit more from this landfill, but it dissipates pretty quickly,” said Dan Gravatt, EPA project manager.

Those at the information meeting two weeks ago were not comforted by what the EPA had to say especially because those water samples were taken this summer, during the drought. And, the government paid the companies responsible for cleaning up the mess, to conduct the tests.

Nickel and others are frustrated because this has been an ongoing issue for decades.

“I guess just me being a plain old citizen, if you know it’s dangerous, chop chop get it done,” she said.

The EPA plans on doing more tests before issuing a final decision.

Read the rest of the second report here:

Third Report

North County cancer cluster investigation

By Leisa Zigman

ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KSDK) – A staggering number of cancers, birth defects and illnesses first reported by the I-Team earlier this month has at least one local oncologist calling our findings, “an event.”

The reported disease rate in just four square miles of north St. Louis County is considered by some experts to be statistically impossible, and yet, some of the most rare cancers and defects have been reported there.

Shari Riley has been a critical care nurse and nurse administrator for nearly three decades. She grew up near Coldwater Creek in Florissant from the late ’60s through ’80s. She believes her appendix cancer is linked to nuclear waste found in the creek and nearby radioactive dust piles that blew in over North County during that time.

“Poltergeist or Erin Brockovich? It’s almost like they built this lovely city on bad ground and poisoned all the people,” she said.

Riley found out about other cases of appendix cancer in North County, thanks to a website called Cold Water Creek – Just the Facts Please.

“Appendix cancer is a very rare cancer. About 1000 cases are diagnosed each year in this country,” explained Dr. Rama Suresh, oncologist at Washington University and Siteman Cancer Center.

One thousand cases per year nationwide and yet, in four square miles of North County, there are 13 reported cases.

“How many people grew up in Chesterfield during that same time and had appendix cancer? None,” said Riley.

The Facebook page organizers are creating a data base of the types of cancers, birth defects and illnesses primarily in the Florissant and Hazelwood areas of North County.

Three weeks ago there were 700 reported cases. Now, there are more than 1,500. While the reporting is a grassroots unscientific effort, medical professionals, like Dr. Suresh are taking notice.

“It is concerning. It is an event because you have so many patients with cancer in the area and young people with cancer in that area, so it needs to be looked at closely,” said Dr. Suresh.

Dr. Suresh is so concerned she is now asking her appendix cancer patients if they grew up in North County. And, she is telling them about the Cold Water Creek Facebook page. It’s a page that is growing every day. When we first reported this story three weeks ago, there were 2,000 people on the Facebook page. Now, there are nearly 6,000.

Read the Full Article Here:

Recent Report (March 6th) from KMOV in St. Louis:

Former Floissant resident Jenell Rodden Wright is to compile cases of cancer using a Facebook page.

“[There] are thre cases of conjoined twins, a baby born with retno blastoma which is cancer of the eye, and we also have three cases that have come forward to us of babies born missing an ear,” she said.

Many of the children who played in the creek are now adults and developing cancers; some of which are linked to radiation exposure.

There are now more than 2,000 cases documented, and the numbers have prompted the state to take a closer look.

Full Story Here:

Are you from North St. Louis County? Join the two Facebook Groups:

Coldwater Creek – Just the facts Please

West Lake Landfill





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We have lost the war on cancer. At the beginning of the last century, one person in twenty would get cancer. In the 1940s it was one out of every sixteen people. In the 1970s it was one person out of ten. Today one person out of three gets cancer in the course of their life.

The cancer industry is probably the most prosperous business in the United States. In 2014, there will be an estimated 1,665,540 new cancer cases diagnosed and 585,720 cancer deaths in the US. $6 billion of tax-payer funds are cycled through various federal agencies for cancer research, such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI states that the medical costs of cancer care are $125 billion, with a projected 39 percent increase to $173 billion by 2020.

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