Unfortunately, St. Louis has been experiencing what some oncologists are calling “an event” in North County and North St. Louis. An unusually high amount of cancer cases has been uncovered over the past few years in small clustered areas, namely North County and North St. Louis. Mostly recently, there have been cancer outbreaks amongst residents and families near Coldwater Creek in St. Louis. Also, former residents of Pruitt-Igoe have been reporting an increased amount of cancer cases.
Interestingly, the two areas share a common trait: they were both subjected to some form of government testing or experiments during the Cold War Era, as well as during World War II.
As far as Pruitt-Igoe goes, it was subjected to some sort of government testing during the Cold War, according to a lawsuit filed. During that time, government workers from the Army Corps of Engineers would spray some sort of smoke or aerosol from the roof of the Pruitt-Igoe residences. The tenants of Pruitt-Igoe never gave consent to do such a thing. Then, apparently cancer incidents have increased amongst those who lived at Pruitt-Igoe. Initial findings report that the substance being sprayed was zinc cadmium sulfide. While city officials were kept in the dark, research into what happened shows that the Army placed these sprayers as an experiment into what they initially said was testing smokescreens to protect cities from Soviet attacks. However, the research into what truly happened in these experiments is much more sinister: evidence tends to show that included in the spray was radioactive particles and that instead of testing a smokescreen, was possibly testing in relation to biological weapons. Government documents show a link between the St. Louis projects, that took place at locations such as Pruitt-Igoe, and a company called US Radium. The problem is US Radium is notorious for lawsuits involving harm caused by radioactive contamination.
Lately, Coldwater Creek has been subject to an increased level of scrutiny as well. Coldwater Creek runs through parts of North St. Louis County. Coldwater Creek came into the spotlight as the subject of numerous lawsuits alleging that contamination of groundwater has caused a frightening level of cancer incidents among those who live or have lived near the creek. Research into the area initially seems to link the creek to various cancers, illnesses, and birth defects. In fact, the data shows there are 700 cases within four square miles: 62 brain cancer cases, 27 leukemia cases, 26 lung cancer cases, 24 multiple sclerosis cases, 15 lymphoma cases, 10 pancreatic cancer cases, and 3 conjoined twins. Some children were even coming down with brain cancer within the first 15 years of their lives. However, one of the things that began to tie the cases together was Coldwater Creek, where the residents used to play.
In the 1940s, Mallinckrodt Chemical Works in downtown St. Louis purified thousands of tons of uranium to make the first atomic bombs as part of government contracting. The problem was the process 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. Currently, Mallinckrodt is owned by Covidian and is attempting to deny its involvement.
Unfortunately, those affected by Coldwater Creek must act with some haste because of a ruling from a US District Court Judge in Downtown St. Louis. The District Court judge dismissed some of the claims relating to Coldwater Creek because of statute of limitations problems. Under the claims asserted, a plaintiff must bring their cause of action within five years from discovering their injuries.
It is important for those who may have been affected to make sure they have not suffered any injuries as a result from possible radioactive exposure from these two scenarios in which the government played a large role. If someone has been affected, it is just as important not to wait to hold those accountable who have caused that harm.