Times Beach | St. Louis Public Radio

Times Beach

Artist Allana Ross and participants of her toxic waste site tours outside of the Bridgeton Landfill in September 2019.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Before a group of young adults embarked on a tour of toxic waste sites in St. Louis, artist Allana Ross asked if anyone wanted a respirator. 

Twice a year since 2017, Ross dresses up as a park ranger and invites people to follow her on a “Toxic Mounds Tour” to locations in St. Louis County that have been contaminated by toxic waste. 

Some stops along the tour are sites where federal officials are cleaning up radioactive waste, like Coldwater Creek in Hazelwood. Others, like the Weldon Spring site in St. Charles, which contains nuclear waste, were converted into parks. 

Marilyn Leistner stands on the "town mound" at Route 66 State Park, where the homes, businesses and churches of Times Beach were buried.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Marilyn Leistner, the last mayor of Times Beach, gazed at a grass-covered mound, the size of four football fields, where the remains of her town are buried. 

“Everything that was near and dear to the people in this community. All the houses and the city equipment. Everything that they didn't take with them that was left in their homes is buried here,” she said, softly.

The “town mound” isn’t in the brochures, but it is the most unusual landmark at Route 66 State Park, which opened 20 years ago on the site of Times Beach.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 22, 2012 - WASHINGTON – Memories of Times Beach stirred this week when a House panel approved a contempt of Congress resolution while, separately, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., expressed his contempt for the Environmental Protection Agency’s head as the “worst administrator” in the agency’s history.

Oddly enough, there may be a connection -– considering that the administrator who many regard as the EPA’s worst was also the first head of a federal agency to be cited for contempt of Congress.

Times Beach, Mo. site of EPA dioxin tests once again

Jun 4, 2012
Google Earth

In the 1980s, the town of Times Beach, Mo. hired a contractor to spray the town’s dirt streets with oil to cut down on dust.  That oil was later found to contain extremely high levels of dioxin, a known cause of cancer.  Tests in the town revealed levels of dioxin 300 times what is considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.