Report: Higher cancer rates in areas near Cold Water Creek
Leisa Zigman, KSDK 4:38 p.m. CDT September 23, 2014
Cold water creek (Photo: KSDK)
- Report found higher numbers of cases of cancer, such as Leukemia, breast, colon and prostate cancer.
- This is in sharp contrast to the first report issued by the state.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY – Data released from the Department of Health and Senior Services confirms what people who have lived near Cold Water Creek have been saying for years. They feared the rare cancers they were getting at an early age were directly related to radioactive contamination in the creek.
But that data also has some mixed messages.
The state examined eight zip codes: 63031, 63033, 63034, 63042, 63043, 63044, 63134 and 63138. Compared to the rest of the state, there were significantly higher numbers of cases of cancer, including Leukemia, especially in zip codes 63031 and 63033; breast cancer; colon cancer; prostate cancer; kidney cancer; bladder cancer and brain cancers in children 17 or younger, especially in zip code 63043.
However, thyroid cancer, which is also associated with ionized radiation, was significantly lower when compared to the rest of the state.
This is in sharp contrast to the first report issued by the state. After a lot of public outcry to include more zip codes and a greater number of years, this new data seems to validate in part what citizens have been saying.
Janell Wright and a group of her class of 1988 classmates from McCluer North High School produced alarming data obtained through their Facebook page, and even St. Louis County Health Director Delores Gunn felt more investigation was needed.
Dr. Gunn said, ‘I want to make sure we get the resources and responses the community needs because we all want to know what’s going on in our environment.”
When KSDK started covering Coldwater Creek and the possible link to cancer several years ago, there were 10 members on the Facebook page. Now, there are more than 10,000.
Diane Schanzenbach, one of the administrators of the Cold Water Creek Facebook page said, “This is a small step in the right direction, but this is just the tip of the iceberg…We still maintain there needs to be studies of those of us who grew up near the creek, but moved away. ”
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.
Citing 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. By the 1990s, the government confirmed unsafe levels of radioactive materials in the water.
To read the new full report, check out the state of Missouri’s website.
To read the state’s letter asking federal authorities to assist with further investigation, see below.