Radioactive Legacy of St. Louis: The Cost, The Human Suffering, The Power of Community

EPA Estimate for West Lake Radioactive Debris Cleanup
Landfill Cap: $95 Million
Partial Removal:   $236 Million
Total Removal:  $700 Million

Only now – after years of tears, diseases and deaths – does it seem that there is an acknowledgment of the full extent of the human damage that began when uranium ore came to St. Louis for processing for the manufacture of atomic weapons. And only now does there seem to be a realization of just how costly the cleanup of much of the resulting radioactive contamination will be.

“The truth is that until the last shovel full of this waste is removed from these areas, the region remains at risk,” said Dawn Chapman of Just MomsSTL. “The landfill fire helps people realize and think about all the issues surrounding this radioactive waste — and what can go wrong. It’s also an example of how dragging your feet and passing these issues on down the road leads to damaged health and looming emergency situations that could have been avoided.”

— Excerpted from Don Corrigan’s story in the next issue of Gateway Journalism Review. The story covers the reactions of Just MomsSTL members to the Feb. 1 announcement by EPA about plans to finally address the radioactive landfill at West Lake in North St. Louis County.

Pictured above: Dawn Chapman (Left) and Karen Nickel, co-founders of Just Moms STL.

Just MomsSTL will receive the Whistleblowers Awards from Gateway Journalism Review at its yearly event celebrating journalism in April:

WHAT:  Gateway Journalism Review’s yearly event celebration
WHEN: Thursday, April 12, 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. when our speaker will be Carl Bernstein at the Edward Jones HQ, Manchester & Ballas Roads.
WHERE:  Edward Jones HQ, Manchester & Ballas Roads, Des Peres.
HIGHLIGHTS:  Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post Watergate Investigation will be interviewed live from his New York location.
AWARDS:  Three awards to be presented:  2018 Whistle Blower Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2018 Freedom Fighter Award.

To see past coverage and podcast interviews about the West Lake Landfill and Cold Water Creek Radioactive Contamination Issue by Environmental Echo,
please see below:


International Nuclear Waste Expert Visits Contaminated Areas In St. Louis – “I toured the situation yesterday and my hair nearly fell out,” Dr. Helen Caldicottsaid. “I’ve never seen anything so goddamn dangerous.” The internationally renowned authority on the medical dangers of nuclear waste did not sugarcoat her thoughts after visiting several contamination points, like Westlake Landfill and Coldwater Creek in North St. Louis County. Read the article HERE.


St. Louis Nuclear Waste Issues Continue – Dr. Helen Caldicott, an Australian physician and anti-nuclear waste activist, answered a few informational questions about the nuclear waste issues in St. Louis. Read the article HERE.


Media’s Coverage Of The West Lake Landfill Issues – A close look at news media coverage of the dangers of radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill. Read the article HERE.


Recent Coverage Of Westlake By Post-Dispatch Sparks Backlash – When Dawn Chapman and other members of Just Moms St. Louis read a front-page story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch titled, “Misplaced Fear,” they immediately went to social media to express they were upset with the piece. Read the article HERE.


Is There Hope For Radioactive Contamination Clean-up At West Lake Landfill? – “I think your government has let you down and there is no way to sugar coat that,” said Albert Kelly, chair of the EPA’s Superfund Task Force and advisor to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Read the article HERE.


Citizen Voices Heard At Cold Water Creek Public Meeting – About 300 Northwest St. Louis County residents voiced concerns, often filled with emotion and anger, to government officials tasked with radioactive waste cleanup efforts around Cold Water Creek. Read the article HERE.


West Lake Landfill Issues Continue: Latest Updates -The West Lake Landfill issues and nuclear waste contamination are hot topics currently in the St. Louis region and public concerns are growing. Read the article HERE.



Just Moms: The Struggle With Nuclear Waste, Politicians, And The Media” – Chapman shares her thoughts about the outcome of the group’s trip to Washington D.C. visit to the White House, the United Nations, and members of Congress about the West Lake Landfill issues, and what it is like to try and balance family, being a mother, and being thrust into the advocate spotlight. Listen HERE.


Cold Water Creek: The Radioactive Legacy Affecting Generations Of St. Louisans” – Kim Visintine, one of the founding members of the organization, “Cold Water Creek: Just the Facts Please,” shares the story of how radioactive waste from Cold Water Creek has been spread throughout North County over the decades.  Listen HERE.


Two Local Mothers Work To Keep A Community From Losing Hope” – Dawn Chapman and Karen Nickel, co-founders of Just Moms STL, share insight, perspectives, and history about the West Lake Landfill and their struggle to protect their kids, their family, and their community. Listen HERE.


The First Secret City: Documentary Film Explores Harmful Legacy Of Nuclear Waste In STL” –  C.D. Stelzer, a local investigative journalist, has spent years following and reporting on nuclear waste issues in the St. Louis area. Listen HERE.


Society of Environmental Journalism’s Peter Dykstra Talks About Love Canal, West Lake Landfill & More. Peter Dykstra is an award-winning environmental journalist with diverse and collective knowledge of the issues confronting the environment, the industry that reports on the environment, and the policies that affect the environment. Listen HERE.


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