FLORISSANT, Mo. — For 32 years, Mary Clynes has witnessed her child struggle.
Her daughter Melissa was born with a condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
It's a rare birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart.
"The only cure for that is a heart transplant or let the baby go," Clynes said.
At 10 days old, Melissa received a heart transplant.
She's been fighting for her life ever since.
At 16 years old, Melissa had her first kidney transplant.
"She's had a very, very challenging rough 32-year journey. Sadly, the immunosuppression drugs destroyed her kidneys, so she's had two kidney transplants. She currently has some serious, serious health issues right now," Clynes said. "Health is the best blessing you can ever get and she’s never had quality health."
That's why Clynes isn't letting her daughter struggle alone. She's gearing up for a legal battle.
"I want to see justice done," Clynes said.
Clynes is one of the hundreds of people working with six law firms on a class action lawsuit. She reached out to attorneys after hearing news about Jana Elementary, the school near Coldwater Creek that got national attention after a private study found high levels of radioactive contamination at the school.
Class Action Lawsuit
In 2018, several attorneys filed a class action lawsuit. They're currently adding on more personal injury suits such as Clynes' case.
They are suing the companies responsible for leaving behind radioactive contamination unattended near and around Coldwater Creek decades ago.
In 1942, Mallinckrodt Chemical Works agreed to process uranium for the Manhattan Project in St. Louis.
The waste from Mallinckrodt was transported and stored at a site north of St. Louis Lambert International Airport from 1947 until the late 1960s.
Mallinckrodt was then purchased by Continental Mining and Milling Company and moved to a site half a mile away.
The material was never appropriately preserved and it started to move throughout the area.
Eventually, the company was bought by several companies, including Cotter, Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) and Exelon Corporation. That's why several companies are listed on the lawsuit.
Beyond that, the lawsuit also includes the Department of Energy.
The plaintiffs are seeking property clean-ups and medical monitoring.
One of the attorneys, Kevin Thompson said medical monitoring means cancer screenings.
These lawyers are also the ones who hired the Boston Chemical Data Corporation, the investigative group that found high levels of contamination at Jana Elementary.
Currently, Thompson said they are amending the lawsuit and updating it with evidence from Jana Elementary which may involve more clients.
Clynes is working with Thompson on a personal injury lawsuit.
She said she was born and raised in North St. Louis County near Coldwater Creek.
"My brothers and I played in Coldwater Creek. When Jana school was built, we attended Jana," Clynes said.
Her father died of colon cancer at a young age.
And when her daughter was born in 1990, she had an 'aha' moment.
She realized there were five other families in a two-to-three-mile radius with babies born with the same condition as her daughter.
"This condition only happens one in every 100,000 live births but yet there were five of us in a small radius that lived near Coldwater Creek. There is no doubt in mind that Coldwater Creek and the high levels of nuclear wastes that were dumped there and left to stay contributed to her problem," Clynes said.
Clynes said she's fighting for her daughter and so many others.
"I don't want any other babies to go through what my daughter went through. I don't want anyone else to get cancer. I wanted the public to get true answers and people to be held accountable for their gross negligence," she said.