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Thousands stricken with cancer in St. Louis due to secret burials of nuclear material by U.S. government

Nuclear waste

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(NaturalNews) St. Louis, Missouri residents living in North County are in the midst of a health nightmare after discovering that for decades nuclear waste has been sitting in soil that's in close proximity to their homes and parks. One such person is Mary Oscko, who has stage four lung cancer. Several of her neighbors have also been affected; they either have cancer themselves or have lost a child or parent to the disease.(1,2)

So serious is the issue that, according to a CBS News video on the topic, a nearby park is now padlocked. There, the Army Corps of Engineers are removing low level radioactive waste that was found underneath the topsoil. In fact, it's estimated that approximately 2,700 people are facing serious health issues ranging from cancers and autoimmune disorders to brain and thyroid tumors.(2)

So, how is it that thousands of people in one small geographic area have become afflicted with terrible health problems?

Nuclear waste dumped "under the cover of national security secrecy"

It's been discovered that two sites near Coldwater Creek, which runs though North County, were used to store radioactive waste as part of America's nuclear weapons program. It was put there by the Mallinckrodt Chemical Company, which was hired by the government to process uranium. The CBS News video states that "tens of thousands of barrels of nuclear waste ... contaminated the soil in the nearby creek." Furthermore, according to a 1990 New York Times article, "under the cover of national security secrecy, the government authorized the company to dump radioactive wastes quietly in the suburbs."(1,2)

County Health Director, Dr. Faisal Khan, explains that, "What you see is an environmental health disaster unfolding slowly over decades." Khan adds that "rates of appendix cancer, for example, which is relatively rare – we see about 800 cases across the nation per year. To find seven or eight cases in one zip code ... is rather unusual."(1)

Health problems are commonplace for Missouri residents: uranium exposure can produce serious consequences

Residents first became aware of the issue when neighbors met during a school reunion, a connection prompted by their interactions on Facebook. One resident, Jenelle Wright, started noticing the staggering amounts of people who had come down with various illnesses and as such, has remained active in shedding light on the devastating series of events that have shaken the community. She says, "Within a six-house radius, I knew four people with brain cancer, one a child, one a young professor."(1)

According to a World Health Organization summary, the possible health consequences from depleted uranium exposure are explained as follows:

"Potentially depleted uranium has both chemical and radiological toxicity with the two important target organs being the kidneys and the lungs. ... Long-term studies of workers exposed to uranium have reported some impairment of kidney function depending on the level of exposure."(3)

Of military use of depleted uranium, that same summary also states that "in some instances the levels of contamination in food and ground water could rise after some years and should be monitored and appropriate measures taken where there is a reasonable possibility of significant quantities of depleted uranium entering the food chain."(3)

The summary outlines that, like many toxic substances, an individual can be exposed to it via contact with their skin, ingestion (through contaminated drinking water or food, or if children ingest the soil in question), or inhalation.(3)

Legal action and contamination testing likely to be a long, drawn-out process

While many St. Louis residents are pushing for legal action and have filed class action lawsuits, progress is slow-moving. Mallinckrodt Chemical Company says that at no time did they ever "own any uranium or its byproducts," and that they "worked under the direction of the U.S. government." To make matters more frustrating and complex for residents, the Atomic Energy Commission, which hired the clean-up companies, is no longer in existence.(2)

While it's good that engineers are currently testing the areas around the creek, the downside is that it will be years before it's all completed.(2)

It's a terrible shame that this occurred in the first place, and especially since the facts were unknown to residents who grew up in the area. It was done in secrecy, and it's probably likely – in this pass-the-blame, loophole-dependent society of ours – that the issue may never be fully resolved. Meanwhile, thousands of innocent people continue to suffer physically, emotionally and financially.

Sources for this article include:

(1) offthegridnews.com

(2) youtube.com

(3) who.int[PDF]

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