Missouri Health Agency Officials Refuse to Answer Questions About New Weldon Spring Cancer Report

On March 11, 2011, a major earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a tsunami that, in addition to killing more than 15,000 people, contributed to the disaster at the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant — the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.  After watching the Fukushima disaster unfold for three weeks, I began to wonder about all things nuclear, including the Weldon Spring Site, located in a once-rural area 30 miles west of St. Louis.

According to the Department of Energy’s history of the Weldon Spring Site, the site was placed on the EPA’s National Priorities List in 1987 because of the potential for groundwater contamination to adversely affect a drinking water well field less than a mile away that served 60,000 users in the area.  That same year, DOE began cleanup actions. Most of the soils were removed and deposited into a 42-acre disposal cell located on-site in the vicinity of the former feed materials plant.

What was it, exactly, that required cleaning?

According to the summary of a nine-page document published by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and  known unofficially as the 2005 Weldon Spring Cancer Report, the Weldon Spring Site in St. Charles County, Mo., was contaminated during the production of 2, 4, 6 – trinitrotoluene (TNT) and 2, 4 and 2,6 Dinitrotoluene (DNT) by the U.S. Department of Army from 1941 to 1945 and from enrichment of uranium ore and thorium processing by the Atomic Energy Commission from 1958 to 1966.

Also contained in the 2005 report was a call for follow-up testing to be conducted in response to concerns that radiological and chemical contamination related to the Weldon Spring Site might be negatively impacting the health of residents in the area.  Specifically, the report’s authors recommended “the Cancer Inquiry Program should continue to monitor the cancer incidence and mortality rates in Weldon Spring and its surrounding areas.”

Ever curious, I decided to find out if the “continue to monitor” recommendation had been taken to heart by MDHSS decision-makers.

Gravel-covered stairs lead to the top of the 75-foot-tall disposal cell at the Weldon Spring Site.

On March 24, 2011, I contacted the agency via email and asked if a new report was taking shape.  Then-Communications Director Jacqueline Lapine responded by telling me that an update to the 2005 report would be published in December 2011.

During the next nine months, I checked with her several times on the status of the report and was told each time that it was still on schedule.  Then, just after 5 o’clock Dec. 29, 2011, a message from Gena Terlizzi arrived in my mailbox.  Included as an attachment to the message from Terlizzi, a woman who had only recently replaced Lapine as the agency’s communications director, was a copy of the new report, known officially as the Analysis of Leukemia Incidence and Mortality Data for St. Charles County, Weldon Spring and Surrounding Areas December 2011 (Update to April 2005 Report) and unofficially as the “Weldon Spring Update” or “2011 Weldon Spring Cancer Inquiry Report.”

I read the new report and found it contains two noteworthy statements in its “Updated Analysis” section on page two.  The first appears below:

Based on updated data from the 5-zip code area, the total number of leukemia deaths and the total number of leukemia deaths in those age 65 and older appears to be significantly higher than expected (Table 4 updated) but the actual leukemia death rates in the 5-zip code area were not significantly different from the statewide leukemia death rates (Table B).

While the first noteworthy statement resembles bureaucratic doublespeak, the second statement (below) leaves one feeling perplexed:

Based on this analysis, we have concluded that there is no increased environmental risk of developing leukemia in the five ZIP-code area during 1996-2004 over that of the entire state.

Together, the two statements combine to raise at least one serious question in my mind:

Should the report’s conclusions about the total number of leukemia deaths and the total number of leukemia deaths among people 65 and older warrant concern among St. Charles County residents, especially those living within the five zip codes (63301, 63303, 63304, 63366 and 63376) targeted by the study?

With that question in my mind, I fired off another email message to MDHSS shortly after noon Central Dec. 30.  In it, I asked several questions, including the two below:

MDHSS officials buried the Weldon Spring Cancer Inquiry Report near the bottom of the “Data & Statistics” page of the agency’s website.

1.  Can you tell me why, in both the 2005 report and the 2011 Weldon Spring Update, MDHSS has looked only at leukemia deaths instead of deaths attributed to a wider variety of cancers? and

2.  I noticed MDHSS has not posted the 2011 Weldon Spring Update on its website or issued a news release about the findings.  Do you plan to issue a news release about it and/or share information contained in the 2011 Weldon Spring Update with residents who live within the five zip codes studied?  If so, when and how?

Worth noting:  I discovered a link to the PDF version of the 2011 report a short time after sending my questions to Terlizzi.  The fact that MDHSS officials had buried it — without explanation, among a half-dozen “special reports” at the bottom of the Data & Statistics page on the MDHSS website — prompted me to let question #2 stand.  SEE UPDATE #2 BELOW.

On Jan. 3 at 3:36 p.m. Central, I received the following response from Terlizzi:

Hi Bob,

We don’t have any additional information or comments aside from what’s included in the report.

Thank you,

Gena

Surprised by the brief response, I placed a follow-up phone call and sent a follow-up email message to Terlizzi, hoping to get some clarification.  Both went unreturned.

As an Air Force public affairs officer during the 1980s and ’90s, I learned quite a bit through firsthand experience dealing with the public and the news media on serious topics, including environmental health concerns related to nuclear-capable military operations.  Among the most important things I learned was that public relations strategies that involve covering up, sugarcoating or otherwise trying to hide bad news from the public never turn out well and should be avoided at all cost.  Those who employ such shortsighted strategies end up facing more questions.

In the case of MDHSS, the agency’s no-comment stance caused two immediate questions to form in my mind:

Are state health agency officials trying to hide something from the public?  and

Do residents living within the target zip codes deserve (1) to have the findings contained in the 2011 report shared with them in a proactive fashion and (2) to get answers to their questions about the report?

While I hope the answer to the first question is “No,” I know the answer to the second question is a resounding “YES!”

* * *

I began this piece some 1,100 words ago by mentioning the disaster at Fukushima.  That event, however, wasn’t the only one to cause me to be interested in the Weldon Spring Site.

During more than ten years of living in the St. Louis area, I’ve heard many people joke about not allowing their children to drink from the water fountains at Francis Howell High School, located a stone’s throw from the Weldon Spring Site.  Most recently, however, I received a phone call.

From the top of the disposal cell at the Weldon Spring Site, one can see nearby Francis Howell High School.

A few days before Halloween 2010, a 40-something mother of two who lives near the Weldon Spring Site contacted me with concerns about what she perceived to be an unusually-high number of cancer cases in her neighborhood.

During multiple conversations over six days, she told me she knew of several people who were either battling cancer or had recently died from the disease. All lived within three blocks of her home in a subdivision of approximately 150 homes, one of many new housing areas to spring up out of farmland in fast-growing St. Charles County during the 1980s and 1990s.

What concerned her most was the fact that the types of cancer involved were varied and included several types of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and a rare blood cancer.  I took some notes, told the woman I would look into the matter and agreed not to share her name with readers if/when I published anything about the serious subject of our conversations. In reality, though, I didn’t expect our conversations to lead to anything.

Five months later, she contacted me again and told me that another of her neighbors — a child living two blocks away — had been diagnosed with cancer. In addition, she told me about several more cases of children attending schools close to her home who had died from different forms of brain cancer. I filed the information just in case.

Some might consider information provided by a nameless suburban housewife unreliable and label it “rumor” and “hearsay” — and I can’t blame them.  I was skeptical myself.

Another two weeks passed, and the same woman forwarded more information to me in the form of links to two articles.

One link led me to an article published March 7, 2001, in St. Louis’ Riverfront Times, the Voice Media Group-owned alternative weekly newspaper in which one can occasionally find a well-researched, long-form investigative piece.  This particular article contained several hard-to-ignore paragraphs, but none stood out more than the one below which contains the observations of a Catholic priest, Father Gerry Kleba:

Last spring, Kleba’s vow of obedience brought him to a new assignment as a senior associate pastor in the placid suburbs of St. Charles County. What he saw shocked him. “This parish has more sick and dying children than I have ever experienced in my 35 years as a priest,” he told the new social-concerns committee.

The second link led to an article published May 24, 2010, in the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald.  It highlighted the story of a couple who, before moving to Nebraska, lived for four years near the Weldon Spring Site. They said they believed environmental toxins from the site were responsible for their two sons’ cases of leukemia.

While the two articles are, at a minimum, thought-provoking, they didn’t convince me of the need to write anything about the Weldon Spring Site. But I remained curious.

During the next few months, I had several off-the-record conversations with long-time residents of the area — people I thought might know something about the subject at hand. One pointed me in the direction of Fernald, Ohio, a small township 18 miles northwest of Cincinnati that was home to a “sister site” of Weldon Spring that had also operated as a feed materials plant.

The Fernald Site was the subject of a New York Times article dated July 27, 1994, that offered some interesting information, including the two tidbits below:

1. The Department of Energy settled a lawsuit in 1994 with former Fernald Site workers, guaranteeing them lifetime medical monitoring paid for by the government at an expected cost to the government of at least $20 million; and

2. In 1989, DOE reached a settlement of $78 million in a lawsuit brought against the government by 14,000 residents of Fernald who contended that their property had been contaminated by uranium.

A source familiar with both the Weldon Spring and Fernald sites told me the 1994 settlement mentioned in the Times story would serve as a precursor of sorts to federal legislation passed 11 years later that would provide up to $400,000 in payments for former nuclear workers and/or their survivors nationwide as well as lifetime medical care.  Among those covered were individuals who had worked at the Weldon Spring Site.

Shortly before publishing this story, that same source told me at least two lawsuits similar to the $78 million Fernald lawsuit have been filed on behalf of citizens living near Apollo/Parks Township, Pa., about 15 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, where activities similar to those conducted at Weldon Spring and Fernald took place for many years.  Though I could find no evidence of any mass tort lawsuits being filed by residents living near the Weldon Spring Site, the same source tells me a group of lawyers is studying that costly possibility.

FINAL THOUGHT:  I know the information shared in this piece might fray some nerves.  All must know, however, that the folks at MDHSS bear responsibility for this story being published.  Had they answered my straight-forward questions in the first place, I might not have felt the need to search for answers on my own; I might not have published a story at all; and I might have continued living in ignorant bliss smack in the heart of one of the targeted zip codes.

Click here to read more-recent stories about the Weldon Spring site.

UPDATE #1 1/25/12 at 2:17 p.m. Central:  Talk Radio Alert: ‘The Dana Show’ Friday Afternoon.

UPDATE #2 1/27/12 at 2:12 p.m. Central:  A reader pointed out to me that clicking on the link (“Weldon Spring Cancer Report Inquiry”) at the bottom of the MDHSS website’s “Data & Statistics” page results in the 2005 report being downloaded.  I tried it and found the reader is right as of this moment.  That being the case, state health agency officials appear to be even less transparent than I thought.  They haven’t even buried the new report on their website.

FOLLOW-UP to UPDATE #1:  Finished the appearance with Dana.  As soon as a podcast is available, I’ll try to post a link to it here.  Go to “The Dana Show” page and select the podcast labeled “1-27-12 Bob McCarty.”

This entry was posted in Cancer, Department of Energy, Missouri News, Weldon Spring Site and tagged , , , , , , , by BobMcCarty. Bookmark the permalink.

About BobMcCarty

A native of Enid, Oklahoma, Bob McCarty graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in journalism in 1984. During the next two decades, he served stints as an Air Force public affairs officer, a political campaign manager, a technology sales consultant and a public relations professional. Today, Bob spends most of his time researching topics, writing about them and publishing those writings. When he’s not writing online, he’s working as an author. Bob’s first published book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice (October 2011), chronicles the life story and wrongful conviction of Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, a highly-decorated Green Beret combat veteran. In his second book, THE CLAPPER MEMO (May 2013), Bob connects the dots between a memo signed by James R. Clapper Jr. — the man now serving as our nation’s top intelligence official — and the deaths of dozens of Americans in Afghanistan at the hands of our so-called Afghan “allies” wearing the uniforms of their nation’s military, police and security forces. Bob is married, has three sons and lives in the St. Louis area. Bob is available for media and blogger interviews. Simply drop a comment here, leaving your name, organization, phone number, e-mail address and area of interest. He’ll try to respond as soon as possible.

39 thoughts on “Missouri Health Agency Officials Refuse to Answer Questions About New Weldon Spring Cancer Report

  1. This is a BLOCKBUSTER/AMAZING article , I am so glad you are shedding light on the most important article!

  2. Bob, what do you recommend we do about this? Is our water safe to drink? Is there more cleanup needed? What are your suggestions?

  3. part of the old 63366 zip code has been amended with 63368 which is now closer to WS than 63366. Is this zip code impacted now?

  4. There are some business parks nearby 94/40, since people are there 50 hours a week, seems a follow up study on them would also be needed.

    They would have much greater exposure then residents in the 5 zip code area.

  5. A young lady was in our shop and while chatting told me she had 3 years to live from Weldon Springs exposure. I told of your web sight and Weldon Springs coverage. She asked for and I gave her your URL. Hope you hear from her.

  6. This issue was again brought up in my support group. I & a FEW… others have Multiple myeloma.. a rare blood cancer, but it does not seem so rare here?? I saw that article in the river city times yrs ago, it was again published in Family Magazine. A friend sent it to me.. any way I have lived all over the world and then moved here 14 yrs ago. The first thing I noticed was all the cancer here in young adults & children. Even FH North did a write up in the school news paper about students dealing with cancer! I thought it was odd, and the fact that many had parents with it or passed away with it.. was amazing! I hope you keep digging , this place needs an Erin Brokavich ( Sp?)!!

  7. I thank you for looking into this contamination Bob! I was in the Army Reserves and required to be so due to a “dual status civil servant position”. I was at Weldon Springs and locked beyhind an electric barbed wire fence for the weekend (called a muta 4 or 5). I literally stood on one side of the chain link fence and just two feet away were a bunch of hazmat people in white suits from head to toe and included a respirator! I remember thinking to myself what’s wrong with this picture? I’m standing just 2′ away in soft cap and BDU’s! That was in the 1990′s, I’ve done some research and found that Weldon Springs and Ft Ord, CA as well as Ft Leonardwood MO are full of Uranium, TNT, DNT and UXD. Which cause cancer and can be absorbed by simply breathing the air! I got out after 20 years of a mixture between Regular Army, Reserve’s, Civil Service in 2000. Only to find that as an otherwise always healthy female up until age 46 woke up in pain one night so bad that I could not even stand up straight by morning! I went to the ER instead of work that day as a Property manager (civilian sites). Only to be told I had stage 4 terminal cancer called gastrointestinal stromal sarcoma! (GIST for short). That was on 12/29/08, I was told I had about 3 months to live! I’m still here only by the grace of God I’m sure and the help of Siteman Cancer Center. There is no proven treatment much less cure as my cancer is so rare. I have zero cancer in my entire family on either side. I filed a claim with the VA and after one year got tired of waiting since 9 months later they said it was basically on someones desk and from that point they have another 309 days to complete it? I said I don’t think I have another 309 days left! So they put a supposed priority on it? I ended up contacting my Congressman here where I live in G.C. IL. He contacted two high ranking retired Air Force officials in charge of atleast a part of the Va claims department. They called me via conference the next day. Told me that they’d never heard of Weldon Springs or Ft Ord being a superfund toxic dump site! They completely made me feel inadequate to prove the “when, what, where and how” that they needed but thanked me for my time in service! Seriously! Well I’ve since printed out over 100′s of pages that prove my when, what, where and how! I am going to follow up through my congressman but if that does not work I will seek an attorney or the news media. Ft Ord was closing down after I left in 1982, it was an infantry post and full of unspent ammo! Thus the uranium and the same contaminents are at Weldon Springs since World War II! They the government that is just keeps covering this stuff up until most people have died then finally they seem to pay a few bucks. Well as long as I’m still living I plan on fighting the morans! It po’s me that I gave my youthful 20 years of service in the Army and Civil Service to be smacked in the face with a carcinigen like Uranium etc.. and they well knew about it! Yet they locked us in all drill weekends and even while I witnessed the white hazmat teams trying to find the caroded drums that leaked into the ground and water! If you can help me or I can help you with informaton please contact me. Thank you for making the truth come to surface!

  8. To Kathy: I loved the movie and true story of Erin Brokovich! I am just as determined to find out answers as she was! I had an Aunt and Uncle who purchased a house in Difiance, both were RN’s. Nice farm house off old 94. They started back in the 70′s unknown to me until later as I was just a kid then but they found a large amount of numerous different types of cancer throughout the area as well as abnormalities or deformities in newborns, still deaths etc.. I may be on disability now and with stage 4 terminal cancer but I spent a lot of time researching that entire area. I am a driven person and in a sense like to think of myself as an Erin Brokovich! :) I don’t take no for an answer and I keep on digging. I hope Bob will help me which I think he can, maybe we can get something really going with this government cover up. I’m sure staying on it and I’m sure that Bob will too. I just found this site tonight and trust me when I say I’ll be reading up daily to see what’s new here. I pray for the best for you and others suffering from your rare blood cancer. Mine is GIST for short if you google it you’ll see their site. It’s gastrointestinal stromal sarcoma stage 4 which as you know another organ has metastisized being my liver which is full of countless tumors. I take chemo pills called Gleevec nightly which are horrific and going on 3 + years now. I’ll have to take them until the day I die. There is no cure, my main tumor is 17cm which the GIST site stops at 10cm so I’m way off the charts from day one of diagnosis in 12/08. I’ve remained stable so it’s not gotten worse nor better. They cannot even remove the tumor or a portion of my liver because GIST is 100% prone to return one you get it. Most are much older, more in the area of 80′s. Only 8 people in the U.S. each year are diagnosed with GIST. I find it odd that the majority are much older, like in the age of World War II. GIST has not been determined for cause except looking at records I’ve printed out on the subject of Uranium or TNT, DNT it’s like being in a dusty field and inhailing unknowingly the toxin of Uranium and it settles either in your lungs or in my case gastric area. I’m 50 now and keep on fighting the cancer fight. I wish you and your small group the best. I wish we could contact each other, I went to a GIST seminar put on by the Siteman center but everyone else there (not many) were well into the 80′s and found nothing in common besides the cancer. There really is no support group for me or others like me with GIST because we are so far apart in age or area. I’ve taken this on alone for the most part but I do have High School friends that reach out every few months, Aunts and Uncles but they live in other states and my daughter who lives with her husband and my grandson but they to live 1500 miles away. So, it’s hard sometimes to stay driven and fight this alone. God bless you. jeangijane

  9. Someone needs to do a study on Francis Howell alumni and staff, many of whom have moved from the area and would not have been part of the zip code statistics. There is an inordinately high number of former students who have developed autoimmune disorders and cancers, including many who died at a relatively young age. Building a school near such a site is reprehensible.

  10. I graduated from FHHS in 1977. The school back then was mostly barracks buildings. My family lived in the 63301 zip code off of Jungs Station Rd. Both my parents were very healthy. Back in the 1995 my dad was diagonoised with lymph node cancer throughout his body and wanst give long to live. Today he is still alive due to experimental treatments. In 2005 my mom came down with a very very rare disease in her lungs. Her lungs shrinks and she will eventually die a slow horrible death because her lungs will continue to shrink until she cant breathe. The past 2 years I have spent time in the hospital due to unexplainable severe pain in my stomach where all of a sudden I just start throwing up blood, for a few days straight then it just stops. I have had numerous tests and the doctors cant find anything. I fear it all has something to do with the water. Last year I found a report on the internet about a HUGE amount of FHHS students who have died from mysterious cancer or rare diseases and I cant find it again. Have you read this report? The list went on and on with FHHS students listing rare diseases, cancer and luekemia and that if you look at the class reunion lists of people who have pasted you will see. Thank you for all your hard work on this issue.

  11. Thanks so much for all the work you are doing. I do have a concern, as I went to FHHS in Weldon Springs, class of 78. In my early 20′s i began having some major health problems that took the next almost 30 years to get a diagnosis. In 2001 i was dx’d with Multiple Sclerosis, Mitral Valve Prolapse, & many other diagnosis’ which ultimately is effecting my lungs, heart, kidneys, & stomach. I’m finding that so many of us who attended FHHS in the 70′s have all these health issues, many of our stories are quite similar. I am angered that we had to drink that water, that appears now it was contaminated, how on earth can the government do this? Do our lives mean nothing to the government? I’m going to say NO we don’t matter to the government,, but yes I would like to see a major class action suit filed against Weldon Springs & the government, for knowing about this and saying nothing, knowing we would all be at risk of serious health problems. This reminds all too well of the CA case where Erin B. investigated & found & exposed the truths. If a class action suit is filed I by all means would love to be included.

    Thanks!
    Sharon Shy Hanawalt

  12. Francis Howell ’77 grad..left masectomy ’08, multiple health issues…disabled since ’05.

    Statistics prove land was very toxic and.significant inctease in cancer/illness are apparent

  13. I went to Francis Howell…graduated in ’81….All 3 of my children went there. So far we have not gotten diagnosed with anything, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t in the future. I wonder if it is safe to consume fish and morel mushrooms from Busch’s Wildlife and from the surrounding area. I wonder if we get exposed to radiation when driving Hwy D through Busch Wildlife. There was a place that kids would hang out called (nick-named) “Echo Dome”, right down the road on hwy 94 from the highschool. It was popular to climb up into a huge empty metal round bowl. We probably all got exposed to cancerous toxins. Also, people would swim in a small so-called quarry in that same area. Years later I heard that authorities found metal barrel/drums of toxic waste laying under the water at the bottom of the quarry. It would be interesting to see if any of the kids that swam in that are cancer free now or not.

  14. Thanks Bob, I also wonder about the people including myself that attended the WWII reenactments that took place on those Weldon Spring grounds before the big clean up of the site. We were all exposed to that & the govt allowed it. Not only did I live 4miles away, but also attended Francis Howell high, not to mention the time spent at the abbandoned water treatment plant! I have 2 friends that died from cancer & both lived w/in 5miles of that place. Really, how many more of us are affected. I knew one man that worked there that received a settlement just before he died of colon cancer ( wow, he really used that money)!

  15. Zip codes change, areas don’t. The new zip code 63368 may not be contained in the report because it is new. But the area is definitely contained as it was formerly 63304 and 63376. Please note that ground water can contaminate wells and many of the older homes in the area are on wells. And the public water wells near the river, not far from the old Weldon Spring site, may still be in operation but to a much smaller extent than they formerly were. Three large pipes have been bored under the Missouri River over the last 20 years to increase capacity in St Charles County. That water is from the Missouri River but treated on the St Louis County side of the river where excess treatment capacity exists. In order to get an accurate assessment, a map of the homesites in the affected zips, including the new zips, and where the water to each of those homes comes from would be very revealing. To get an understanding of the problem, follow the water from its source.

  16. My sister Cathie Harris graduated in 1976 from FHHS she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1981 she had radiation and was in remission then in 2010 the cancer came back this time in was in her lung she did smoke but this was a tumor and the doctors said that smoking did not cause this ,he said it was the Hodgekins coming back she went thru chemo this time and the tumor shrank so they stopped chemo on July 3 2011 we took her to the ER they told us it had spread to her brain she passed away on July 20 2011 We miss her so much !!!! I would like to add some more so here goes my sister told her cancer dr. that her forehead hurt, chest , well there were 13 small tumors in the brain one big one in the front of her brain she also told him her chest hurt and it was hard to swallow there was a tumor behind her esophagus and one at the base of the brain now she had told this cancer dr. all this before and after chemo and said she was in a lot of pain which they didn’t believe her they called her a drug addict I took care of her until the end she passed away in my living room

  17. this is all very interesting, i graduated from fhhs in 1979 and i was just diagnosed this last march with thyroid cancer, i plan on researching this a little more.

  18. I also graduated from FHHS in ’81 and spent some time hanging out with classmates in the area but stayed away from the quarry. I heard other students talking about the quarry many times. Fortunately I have not had any issues with my health. I no longer live in the area but had heard about this a few years back. I thought about this as I was doing research on ethical corporate and government responsibility related to the environment for my MBA. This is definitely something I am interested in keeping up with, thank you for all of the information.

  19. As a graduate of Francis Howell High, I wonder what the long term effects of being in that school 5 days a week for 4 years may have done to me. What should be done is a survey/study of all graduates from this school (FHSD surely has these, and if so, the state could require they be handed over). All graduates should be contacted to opt-in for this survey/study and of course, research should be done about how close an FH student lived to the school, have they been diagnosed with cancer and when, if so, you would need further research into the gap between graduation date and lifestyle/occupation (Do you smoke? Do you work in a field where you are exposed to high levels of radiation where it was required and disclosed by OSHA?). What about student who are deceased? What did they die from? This would be a long, large, expensive survey and given how tough times are economically, it will likely not be seen as valuable or important research. When I attended Francis Howell High, I made jokes about how the kids from Howell “glow with Viking pride”. As I get older I realize these jokes may not be so funny anymore. What if the area is just like Times Beach? That may be part of the reason this box has never been opened… because the learnings from a small town like Times Beach would have to be blown up to a far greater scale given that FHHS student count hovers around 1800 students annually… and this number was roughly 15% higher until the late 1990′s when Francis Howell Central opened to alleviate overcrowding at both FH and FH North. Lots of people are owed lots of answers. If the news wasn’t likely grim and frightening, the State of Missouri would likely have done this quantitative and qualitative research long ago.

  20. I lived off Kisker road and Hwy 94 from 1994 to 2003. We got our water for awhile from the Weldon Springs aquafier provided by Missouri American Water Company before they bought St. Louis County Water Company and I was told that our water came from Weldon Springs. There were talks about a high rate of Leukemia around 2001 and a lot of discussion about multiple EPA reports about the safety of the drinking water. Right afterwards Missouri American Water Company bought St. Louis County and they no longer used this source of water, but THE DAMAGE WAS DONE! I moved to University City in 2003, and in 2009 I was diagnosed with Primary Amyloidosis and extrremeely rare blood protein disorder that is similar to Leukemia, with unknown origins. The Federal Government believes the Agent Orange caused Amyloidosis, other scenarios are unfounded. I feel I have this deadly disease as a result of this water supply. I was given less than 6 months to live without aggressive chemotherapy treatment and even with treatment given 3 to 5 years. I get chemotherapy regularly and I am 55 years old. I am a licensed professional mechanical Engineer but am disabled now. How can I be paid back for this injustice?

  21. We just moved to Defiance, 63341. Im sure were included in this too. I surely hope not though. Is there a way of sending water out and having it tested at a 3rd party to see how bad this water is? Ive heard more stories recently of this and may regret moving out this way. Ive always heard the rumor to never eat any fish you catch out at busch wildlife because of the uranium dumping there in the 40s or whatever, but this is just getting really really scary. Thanks, and please keep us updated. Sheesh.

  22. How about folks on the other side of the Missouri in west STL county? Have there been any unusual indications of people in Chesterfield, Creve Coeur, Ballwin, etc who may have been exposed to down stream runoff from the Weldon Springs site?

  23. This is all very interesting. I graduated in 1979 from Francis Howell. We have always joked about us glowing from drinking the water from the high school. It is not funny anymore. My brother Larry graduated in 1976 from Francis Howell. He died 4 years ago from kidney cancer at the age of 50. Cancer does not run in our family. We have talked many times on how he got cancer. I will definitely share this information.

  24. My father and father in law both helped clean this up years ago In Weldon Springs with the National Guard. Both oddly enough both passed from the exact type of cancer…..I have also been told that 3 other men from his unit have also passsed from the same cancer. Always wanted to check into it more and see what could be done. If anyone has any info please email me jef24fan@yahoo.com

  25. I’m wondering if anyone has taken into account the number of teachers or other staff at the schools who have had cancer as well. My husband is a teacher at FHHS and he was diagnosed in 2003. I know of two other colleagues that have also had cancer diagnoses, one who died. I’m sure there are others. Sometimes we forget that the people who work in such areas may not live there.

  26. When my husband, two children and I moved from North County to St. Charles County, I remember commenting to my husband that every Quick Shop, Seven Eleven, gas station, etc.I went into, all had collection jars on their counters with a picture of a child fighting Leukemia. I told my husband that I had never seen so many children with cancer in one area. I have no doubt that Weldon Springs is responsible for this.

  27. I grew up in St. Charles County and was exposed to the dioxin sprayed to kill weeds along our road as a child. Then they found out that some contaminated oil was put on our gravel roads to hold down the dust. Our house was within 50 feet of one of those roads. And I’ve long heard about Weldon Springs.

    When we moved away from the area I was surprised to see many fewer cancer centers in other parts of the country. That alone confirmed what I thought. The cancer research and treatment centers locate where the cases are. My parents and aunt have had cancer when none of the previous generation had been diagnosed with cancer. Something’s causing the change!

    So we’ve moved back, and I think if you want to live in this area, there’s almost no way to avoid living near contamination from something. I will not drink local water, though, since I figured this out. It seems to be all I can do.

  28. Hello Bob,
    Thank you for facilitating this dialogue with these individuals to make this information available.
    In principle, I believe these concerns are valid, and offer that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) can provide resources such as laboratory testing of drinking water for a number of contaminants at no cost to a concerned member of the public.
    The Weldon Springs Site met initial closure requirements…, but also committed to long-term monitoring to ensure the health of the public.

  29. I am pleased to see this issue continued to be discussed. I have been aware of the research and concerns that people I have. I think it is also very important that not only are the graduates of FHHS interviewed but I am running into many of my friends that graduated from there who are now having children diagnosed with some significant disabilities with common similarities. It is important to look into that link as well as cancer.

  30. I would like to know , Defiance is not stated as a contaminated area, as yet. but how about the homes higher up on holden road? That area is about four hundred feet higher than the main road in Defiance on Hwy 94 as far as altitude. If someone has thier own well that is at least four hundred feet deep and at this altitude would there be a fear of that well water being contaminated from all these sites running off into it? Or is it too high? seems to me that even at its deepest part if that is the case, that particular well would not be mixing with the wells that would be deeper and at the top height of any wells that would be in Defiance for they would have to be that much more deeper and it woulldnt apply…seems that a well in question at the top of holden road going down four hundred feet would be safe..Is there a way, though to test the water from this well source and where could a sample be taken to check it out for these same toxins… can anyone answer be back please…It is appreciated

  31. It might be worth performing further research or collecting data from the Missouri Department of Conservation about the Busch Wildlife Conservation Area. It is also located nearby the “rock pile”, and I have personally heard more than a few stories about mutated animal life in the area. A lot of people hunt/fish there.

  32. Bob, One major problem with studies is that they can say what you want the outcome to be by being selective choosing the data. Case in point: Our daughter had Leukemia during this time frame, however she is not included in the data since her death was from an infection resulting in respiratory failure. All of this tragedy was due to her Leukemia, however no mention of that. You can verify this: Her name: Michelle Elizabeth Reichert, Date of Death 02-10-1986.

  33. I just found this website and find the info interesting. I lived at the intersection of highways 94 and 40/61 from 1953 through 1965 and returned to my childhood home often through 1997. We used our private well water for everything. Wonder how safe that was?!! I went to Weldon Springs Elementary, Francis Howell Jr High and graduated from FHHS in 1965. Now I live out of state and didn’t keep up with this controversy. Anyway, I now have mulitple myeloma which is categorized as high risk due the extent of bone marrow involvement. Keep up the work in trying to figure out this situation. Thanks.

  34. Our Army Reserve Unit in the 90s would be sent out for practice drills out there…bastards.

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