Nuclear waste blamed for high rates of cancer near Coldwater Creek
ST.LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis County's top health official is joining in the call for further investigation of health concerns possibly linked to nuclear waste contamination in Coldwater Creek.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Dr. Dolores Gunn says a state report released Tuesday raised additional questions about the creek that runs from St. Ann to the Missouri River.
The report released Tuesday showed high rates of leukemia, breast, colon and other cancers in eight zip codes near the creek. The report also found high rates of brain cancers among children in the 63043 ZIP code, which is near the radioactive West Lake Landfill. The same waste from World War II-era atomic bomb production ended up in the creek and the landfill.
An informal survey in 2013 by locals counted 1,242 total people suffering from cancer among 3,300 people who had lived around the creek. In 2013 the Missouri Health Department said they didn't find higher risk of cancers linked to radiation for people living in six ZIP codes adjacent to Coldwater Creek, which runs through Florissant, Black Jack and Spanish Lake. Health officials acknowledged the limitations of the report because it didn't account for people who had moved out of the area.
Last year at least 50 resident from North County sued Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and other companies for their handling of nucler waste since the 1950's. According to the Mallinckrodt website, the company purified and provided all of the uranium oxide for the Manhattan Project during World War II.
The county health department has hired three epidemiologists to study chronic illnesses around the county including the Coldwater Creek area "to assess what measurable effects can be identified that might be linked to radiation exposure," according to the statement.
Cleanup of the creek is ongoing; The Environmental Protection Agency is still weighing a solution for the landfill.