HAZELWOOD – There is new evidence of radioactive contamination near Coldwater Creek in north St. Louis County where hundreds of cases of cancer have been reported in geographic clusters along the creek.
A grassroots effort to collect information of incidents of cancer was started online by concerned current and former residents of the area. Many believe the radiation is causing their cancer. And news of more radiation in Saint Cin Park brings new worries.
At an open house in Hazelwood Wednesday night, the Army Corps of Engineers told residents it has found what it calls "low levels" of radiation. The Corps will begin remediation in early July. And the Corps plans to continue testing north along the creek all the way to the Missouri River.
But that could take years. And many say the government isn't doing enough to help those who may be suffering from radioactive materials left over from World War II.
"It's too late for me I have stage four incurable cancer," said Michelle Seger who grew up playing in Coldwater Creek. She attended the meeting with an independent documentary film crew following her as she asked questions of officials. The crew is working on a project about Coldwater Creek led by a filmmaker with previous projects airing on the cable network HBO.
Seger says she did not get the answers she and others who live or grew up in the area deserve. "Every person has the right to know what is going on and if you live on contaminated ground you need to know. If children are playing in parks and digging up dirt…they need to know."
"There's really not an immediate risk to public health," says Mike Petersen with the Army Corps of Engineers of the most recent radiation engineers found. "The reason we're out there is we're looking at the long term protection of the public. Because these are low level doses of radiation. Most of it is sub-surface so it's not going to be something people run into just in there day to day activities," said Petersen.
Some at the meeting were encouraged to learn that the St. Louis County Health Department is launching a study to scientifically determine if in fact radiation is to blame for the cluster of cancers along Coldwater Creek, but that too will take years to complete.