Coldwater Creek

This photo of Coldwater Creek flooding was taken from the Dunn Road bridge on Monday.
Paul A. Huddleston

Update 2:30 Dec. 29 with guard activated - Floodwater from Coldwater Creek in north St. Louis County is not radioactive, but it could still pose a health risk.

That’s according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is testing and cleaning up contaminated yards and parks along the creek.

Moose Winan, "Rolling Thunder & Hills," Ozark Mountains
Moose Winans | Flickr, Creative Commons | http://bit.ly/1YyPCLb

One word comes to mind when we think about the environmental news that’s been a conversation starter in St. Louis in 2015: landfills. Specifically, what is going on at the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills north St. Louis County. On Wednesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” St. Louis Public Radio’s science reporter Véronique LaCapra joined the show to discuss the evolution of the landfill situation and other big science, environmental and wildlife news of the year.

Some of the topics we discussed:

This Google map shows the stretch of Coldwater Creek that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently testing for radiation. The area shaded in pink is in Hazelwood, the area in gray is in Florissant.
Google Maps

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has found more radioactive contamination along a north St. Louis County creek.

The latest round of sampling detected radioactive soil at three homes and four businesses near Coldwater Creek. That’s in addition to the contamination found this summer at four homes and the Chez Paree apartment complex near Palm Drive in Hazelwood.

The Corps declined to say where the seven newly-identified properties are located or what kind of businesses are involved, stating it is still verifying that all property owners have been contacted.

Federal environmental health scientist Erin Evans speaks to area residents at an open house about Coldwater Creek on Wednesday.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:00 p.m., Dec. 3 with information on the county study - Federal scientists were in St. Louis County on Wednesday to talk with area residents about a planned public health assessment related to contamination along Coldwater Creek.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) announced last month that it would be launching the study to evaluate people’s potential exposures to radiation and other hazardous substances in and around the creek.

Using an online survey, the Coldwater Creek Facebook group has been collecting information on illnesses in the communities around the creek. Close to 2,000 cases of cancer have been reported.
Coldwater Creek - Just the Facts Please Facebook group

St. Louis County is teaming up with federal scientists to assess health risks from radioactive contamination in and around Coldwater Creek in north St. Louis County.

According to county public health department director Faisal Khan, the collaboration with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will give a big boost to local efforts to study those risks, both in terms of financial resources and technical expertise.

Still from feature film "First Secret City"
St. Louis International Film Festival

Cinema St. Louis’ St. Louis International Film Festival starts next week on November 5, bringing with it a group of films that are sure to inspire some conversation around town. “The First Secret City” is one of them.

Robbin Dailey of Bridgeton, Mary Oscko of Hazelwood and Meagan Beckermann of Bridgeton survey the newly closed St. Cin Park.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

This post has been updated to include information regarding the city of Florissant. 

Hazelwood is closing a popular park along Coldwater Creek as cleanup efforts continue after the discovery of “low-dose” radioactive soil. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a cleanup on one side of St. Cin Park, and the city had kept the park’s playground open.

Some residents in this part of north St. Louis County believe their health problems are due to exposure to the creek, which is contaminated with decades-old radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project. Tensions in Hazelwood reached a high point last week, when the Army Corps confirmed that they had found radioactive contamination in soil samples from the backyards of three homes on Palm Drive.

Coldwater Creek Facebook group co-administrator Jenell Wright (white jacket) takes notes during a meeting of the Coldwater Creek oversight committee on Thursday.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

More than a hundred people packed into a room at the Hazelwood Civic Center last night to hear about radioactive contamination outside homes near Coldwater Creek.

St. Cin Park in Hazelwood on Wednesday. The park is staying open during the clean-up, but the Corps is monitoring the air and water for contamination.
Mike Petersen | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has confirmed that it has found radioactive contamination at residential properties along Coldwater Creek in north St. Louis County.

Mike Petersen, the chief of public affairs for the Corps' St. Louis District, said as of right now, "low-dose" contamination had been found in the soil around "a handful" of homes on Palm Drive in Hazelwood, immediately adjacent to the creek. He was not able to specify the exact number of properties affected.

Alex Heuer

During World War II, a St. Louis-based company took on a project that turned out to be detrimental to the health of its employees.

Mallinckrodt Chemical Company was responsible for refining massive amounts of uranium for the Manhattan Project. As a result, some of Mallinckrodt’s employees succumbed to various illnesses caused by exposure to nuclear waste.

Michelle Seeger questions Army Corps health physicist Jonathan Rankins while her sister Julie Pinkston looks on. Seeger grew up near Coldwater Creek and has Stage IV cancer.
Credit Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 6/24/15 after the Corps open house - Area residents packed into a room at the Hazelwood Civic Center last night to find out the bad news about radioactive contamination in North St. Louis County.

At the open house, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed it has found radioactive contamination at three new sites along Coldwater Creek.

They are in St. Cin Park in Hazelwood, Duchesne Park in Florissant, and a property of the St. Louis Archdiocese behind St. Ferdinand cemetery, also in Hazelwood. All the contaminated areas are subject to flooding from the creek.

Jenell Wright (front row, in blue) and Meagan Beckermann (second row, in light blue) were among the crowd of more than 100 that gathered to listen to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1/29/15 after the meeting

More than a hundred people packed into a room at the Hazelwood Civic Center East Thursday night to hear the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talk about its cleanup of St. Louis radioactive waste sites.

Pattonville Assistant Fire Chief Matt LaVanchy discuses recent data from the Bridgeton Landfill's underground fire, which has been smoldering since late 2010. 01/23/2015
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents in municipalities surrounding the Bridgeton Landfill are growing increasingly frustrated with the pace of cleanup efforts and a "lack of communications" between environmental agencies tasked with overseeing the project.  

In Jan. 2014, an online survey had collected 1,242 reports of cancer from current and former residents of the neighborhoods around Coldwater Creek in North St. Louis County.
Coldwater Creek Facts PowerPoint presentation

New data are adding to concerns that exposure to radioactive waste in Coldwater Creek could be causing cancers and other health problems.

Nuclear waste generated by the Mallinckrodt Company was dumped in North St. Louis County after World War II, contaminating the creek and surrounding areas.

Residents of the area around Coldwater Creek in north St. Louis County do not have higher rates of cancers caused by exposure to radiation. That's the finding of a study released today by the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.

State scientists looked at the incidence of 27 types of cancer in five zip codes near the creek for the period from 1996 to 2004.

(via Napoli, Bern, Ripka, Shkolnik & Associates LLP Attorneys at Law and Byron, Carlson, Petri & Kalb, LLC Attorneys at Law)

Updated at 12:15 p.m. to revise the caption of the Hazelwood/Florissant health map.

Concerned North County residents got an opportunity last night to meet with attorneys who are involved in two lawsuits relating to radioactive contamination in Coldwater Creek.

The lawsuits allege that North County residents have developed cancers and other illnesses from exposure to radioactive waste produced by the Mallinckrodt chemical company.