Environmental Echo will continue to cover the Westlake Landfill and Coldwater Creek nuclear waste issues. Look for upcoming podcast interviews with some of the St. Louis region’s legislative leaders who represent the people from the contaminated areas. They have some pretty strong opinions on the inaction by state and federal authorities on radioactive problems that have been festering for decades.
Dr. Helen Caldicott, an Australian physician and anti-nuclear waste activist, was the keynote speaker at the St. Louis Community College at Wildwood’s symposium, “The Atoms Next Door” on February 20, 2016.
Caldicott answered a few informational questions about the nuclear waste issues in St. Louis in an email response to Environmental Echo. The questions and answers are included below.
Environmental Echo: After visiting some of the local radioactive contaminated sites – How do the issues in St. Louis compare to other areas you have seen and toured?
Dr. Caldicott: I have rarely if ever seen such huge piles of unprotected radioactive waste.
Environmental Echo: What were your thoughts and concerns after seeing the Bridgeton and Westlake landfills where an underground fire is burning near radioactive waste? In your opinion, what should be done?
Dr. Caldicott: The adjacent population at risk should be relocated immediately at the expense of the Federal government.
Environmental Echo: An issue often brought up by local residents exposed to radioactive waste is the worry that health issues, like rare cancers and brain tumors, could be passed on to their children. Is there a threat that offspring could develop issues?
Dr. Caldicott: The diseases that the parents have will not be passed onto the offspring, however as children, young babies and fetuses are exceptionally sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of radiation, and they may well develop their own cancers and diseases. Genetic mutations in the sperm and eggs, however, can be passed onto generations in the future like diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and many other inherited diseases.
Environmental Echo: In your experience have you ever seen a successful outcome for clean-up of radioactive waste in a populated area?
Dr. Caldicott: First the population MUST be relocated, then the radioactive waste must be removed promptly to a distant desert area and buried deep beneath the earth where it will be safe. If the population remains in situ, they will be exposed to much more radioactive material in the dust from moving the waste, and this would be extremely dangerous!
Environmental Echo: What advice or information can you give to the local citizens and advocacy groups, like Just Moms STL and the Cold Water Creek group, that are working to bring awareness and push government authorities to do something about the radioactive contamination issues in St. Louis?
Dr. Caldicott: This is an acute clinical emergency and the Federal Government must be forced to take the steps outlined above with due haste.
For more information about Dr. Helen Caldicott and her work to educate communities about the hazards of nuclear waste CLICK HERE.
To read event coverage of the St. Louis Community College at Wildwood’s symposium on nuclear waste CLICK HERE.