Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Toxic Mounds Tour and Coldwater Creek

Last month, I joined a group comprised of artists, organizers, and activists to take a tour of the toxic mound sites in and around St. Louis, my new home. At a time when the group organizing the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons wins the Nobel Peace Prize, it is rather pertinent to discuss the production and eventual storage of nuclear weapons waste. A theme running through the Toxic Mounds tour was that all toxic sites became toxic with agents used for war: for bombs and chemicals like Agent Orange. And these materials have lingered throughout St. Louis, poisoning residents for decades. It seems our mutual destruction has already begun. I am, by no means, an expert on the topic, which is why a tour organized by an artist I met this year, Allana, helped uncover the problems and misery caused by nuclear waste impacting citizens here. Lindsay Toler wrote a far more thorough report of the West Lake Landfill's impact and history in the River Front Times.

Initially, I heard about these toxic sites from an episode on John Oliver's Last Week Tonight. In the episode, Oliver mentions, Coldwater Creek, in nearby in North St. Louis. At first I panicked having just moved to St. Louis. But most Americans live within 50 miles of a site with radioactive waste or other serious pollutants. The problem is we have never found a proper way to transport and store the waste created by nuclear reactors. And that is especially dangerous because radioactive waste like Radium 226 has a half life of 1600 years. Radioactivity only intensifies over thousands of years. Residents living along Coldwater Creek, where Mallinckrodt left barrels of radioactive waste the company produced for the atomic bombs in the 1940s, experienced high rates of rare cancers linked to exposure to radioactivity. The cancers continue to impact citizens.

We went to the headwaters of Coldwater Creek and other sites on the tour. Below are photographs from the day. I encourage those interested in or worried about this to schedule a tour with Allana. I'm also eager to go on the North STL County Nuclear Legacy Bike Tour, a bike path near where radioactive material has been illegally dumped on its way to other dumping locations. But this will do for now.

Who will be held accountable for this? Supposedly Scott Pruitt will have a plan. The EPA has ignored the issue, possible nuclear fallout at West Lake, for decades. Pruitt claims he will have a plan next month.

I retain copyright to all photographs. For request to use or download images, please contact me.

Allana, our tour guide with her tour guide dog.
Dioxin Mound
Coldwater Creek Headwaters

Industrial park near Coldwater Creek

Picnic in what was Carrollton

Carrollton, once a suburb near the airport

Carrollton, once a suburb near the airport

West Lake, the site of the River Front Times article

There's a fire underground that is dangerously close to radioactive waste

Home on a cliff in the distance overlooking West Lake

Dusk on a chilly November day, overlooking the West Lake landfill

No comments:

Post a Comment