So people knew I went through cancer treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during 2019-2020. And if course like everyone you do the usual questioning “why me?”. “You were just unlucky.” And generally that’s just it-bad luck. But…there was one factor that lived in the back of my head, one that effected many people of my generation in the suburb I grew up in and others surrounding it. An innocent looking creek.
Coldwater Creek runs through north St. Louis county, a tributary of the Missouri River. During the Manhattan Project, St. Louis based Mallinkrodt Pharmaceuticals was asked to come up with a quick way to refine uranium. After the war the Atomic Energy Commission contracted Mallinkrodt to continue processing uranium. Later radioactive materials were buried underground near Lambert St. Louis International airport. The creek begins at a spring nearby, runs under the airport, and resurfaces in north St. Louis county before dumping out into the river.
Kids would play in the creek. During heavy rainfall it would sometimes spill its banks and flood neighboring houses, land..and a school.
I went to Jana for kindergarten. The creek ran alongside the park we used to walk to and where we went to summer camp. I’d considered that maybe my cancer could have been caused by Coldwater Creek, but since we never really played in it and didn’t live all that close is was always an outside chance.
Until this story. Now, the possibility has jumped tenfold. Add to that that an offshoot of the creek ran behind my aunt and uncle’s old house and both my aunt and my younger cousin also had cancer. He had skin cancer and she had breast cancer.
The effects of Coldwater Creek have been known for some years now, but it was always just sort of swept under the rug. Mallinkrodt kept it will hidden. Oh, did I mention that another burial spot is awfully close to and underground smoldering fire at a landfill? More below.
The news about Jana has made national news. Sadly, it took a story like this to draw attention to this mess. My friend asked “why doesn’t the Army Corps of Engineers just buy up all the land?” Because of how many people that would displace. When I was living in Florissant the population was between 50-70k. That’s just one of about 3 or 4 suburbs effected.
This is a huge mess and I fear it will only get worse. I’ve included a couple other links about Coldwater Creek and Westlake Landfill and their impact.