Radioactive Waste Dangers Surface Again in Saint Louis

KSDK-TV’s Leisa Zigman shared a series of investigative reports this week about cancer clusters many believe stem from piles of radioactive waste being dumped in the St. Louis area decades ago.

Zigman’s first report for the NBC affiliate (above) highlighted a cancer cluster map of St. Louis and spotlighted dumping near St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport and toxic runoff into nearby Coldwater Creek.

Her second report (below) focused on the Westlake Landfill, where a reported 8,000 tons of radioactive waste was allowed to be dumped in a flood plain, close to public water sources and without any barriers or other protective measures installed.

Zigman’s reports dovetail nicely with an exclusive story I broke 54 weeks ago about a controversial report about cancer rates among people living in the vicinity of the Department of Energy’s Weldon Spring Site in St. Charles County, Mo.  The site had been 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.

Uphill Battle

Click to read reports in my series, “Uphill Battle for Answers.”

Likewise, her reports complement the handful of follow-up efforts I’ve shared in my series, Uphill Battle for Answers.

Among my reports, I predicted that radiation exposure-related lawsuits were on the horizon after attending a meeting in St. Louis during which a gaggle of New York City personal-injury lawyers were hunting for potential clients.

In addition, I reported on how I had reached the conclusion that several Missouri state legislators seemed less interested in cancer dangers affecting people in their districts than they were in passing measures having to do with jumping jacks and butterflies.

Finally, after investigating similarities between the Weldon Spring Site and a “sister” site in Ohio, I used a headline to ask the question, Do Residents Living Near Weldon Spring Site Deserve Compensation for Radiation Exposure?

Now that KSDK-TV has entered the fray by reporting on this topic, I expect more questions — and more reports — will follow.  Stay tuned!

UPDATE 2/7/2013 at 8:38 p.m. Central:  Apparently, a handful of Missouri state legislators — including one mentioned in my post March 26, 2012 — paid attention to the KSDK-TV report and decided to unveil some of what Culture Vigilante Lisa Payne-Naeger calls “Yankee Doodle Legislation” requesting the U.S. Congress transfer authority for the remediation of the West Lake Landfill from the EPA to the Corps of Engineers’ FUSRAP project with the urgent, related request that the wastes be excavated from the Missouri River flood plain and be transported to a licensed radioactive waste facility, away from water and away from people.  It’s a start, I guess.

"Three Days In August" Promotional PhotoBob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, a nonfiction book that’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com. His second book, The CLAPPER MEMO, is coming soon was released May 2013.

Missouri State Legislators Not Inclined to Place High Priority on 2011 Weldon Spring Cancer Report

March has been a miserable month for me when it comes to dealing with Republican Party officials in my own backyard.

Click image to read related stories.

While most of my interaction about “things Republican” has revolved around the 2012 St. Charles County (Mo.) Republican Presidential Caucus, other interactions have involved GOP members of the Missouri House of Representatives.

During the first week of March, I made multiple attempts to contact several of those representatives with questions I had regarding the “2011 Weldon Spring Cancer Inquiry Report,” a four-page document published by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services that was the subject of an exclusive article I broke Jan. 23.

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, according to an earlier MDHSS document, the 2005 Weldon Spring Cancer Report.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  To learn more background information about this matter, you might want to read my article, Missouri Health Agency Officials Refuse to Answer Questions About New Weldon Spring Cancer Report, before reading the rest of this piece.

Those initial contact attempts, made between March 2 and March 6, involved sending three separate Facebook messages to five state representatives – Kurt Bahr of O’Fallon, Kathie Conway of St. Charles, Chuck Gatschenberger of Lake Saint Louis, Mark Parkinson of St. Peters and Anne Zerr of St. Charles.  My goal was to find out what each is doing, or planning to do, to obtain answers for their constituents about the controversial report.

Reps. Kurt Bahr and Kathie Conway

To their credit, Representatives Bahr and Conway replied soon after being contacted.  Both admitted they were not extremely familiar with the topic, both explained they were very busy with legislative matters in Jefferson City, and both gave me the initial impression that the matter isn’t likely to become a “front-burner issue” anytime soon.

Sadly, three of the state representatives – Gatschenberger, Parkinson and Zerr (shown below) — chose not to reply, leading me to come up with several possible reasons for their failures to respond:

• They place a low priority on the health and well-being of their constituents who live in the shadow of the Weldon Spring Site 30 miles west of St. Louis;

• They haven’t been asked often enough by their constituents to look into the matter;

• They place a low priority on inquiries from non-mainstream media reporters like me;

• They don’t want to have their names attached to such a potentially-volatile political “hot potato” during an election year;

• They believe ignorance is bliss; or

• Last but not least, it’s possible they don’t check their Facebook messages very often.

On March 7, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt regarding the Facebook possibility and send the same basic inquiry to all five state representatives via their official state email addresses.  Interestingly, the same two representatives who had replied to my Facebook messages replied to the email, and the same three representatives who had not replied to my Facebook messages did not reply to the email.

On the positive side, Representative Conway‘s reply came the same day and seemed to display genuine interest in the issue.

Not so positively, Representative Bahr‘s reply came the following day, was copied to all four of his colleagues, and didn’t leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

After he labeled me “the expert” on the matter at hand, Representative Bahr demanded I offer a solution before he would devote time to the matter.  In a “Reply to All” message, I refused the expert label and went on to share my beliefs that elected and unelected state officials must be responsive and that the issues raised in the report are not the kind to be solved quickly.  I closed by explaining what, at a minimum, officials at the state health agency should be required to do.

My short to-do list included requiring MDHSS officials to explain how they reached the conclusions they had reached in the report, to answer why they’ve refused to answer any questions from reporters — including Blythe Bernhard at the Post-Dispatch and me — about the report, and to respond to criticism of the report, such as that offered by Washington University Professor Robert Criss in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, Report on cancer report from Weldon Spring site assailed.  It was published Feb. 20, four weeks after my initial article.

Interestingly, I ran into Representative Parkinson Saturday at the aforementioned caucus (a.k.a., “St. Patrick’s Day Massacre”), a topic about which I’ve written and published nine posts to date (not including this one).  He was manning the first chair at a long table of GOP officials processing caucus registrations.

When my turn to register came, I asked Representative Parkinson why he had not responded to any of my messages about Weldon Spring.  He said he had not seen them and acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about.

The conversation continued, and Representative Parkinson asked me to provide details about the issue.  I told him it was Weldon Spring, that he should read his email from me and — cognizant of the fact that 300 people were waiting behind me in the long caucus registration line — that “now” wasn’t the time or the place to discuss the matter.

As I started to walk away, Representative Parkinson asked if I, as “the expert” on the Weldon Spring matter, would like to discuss it over coffee.  I replied by telling him I would prefer to handle the matter more expediently, without wasting more time, via his response to my email message.

Later, while waiting for the caucus to begin inside the larger of two gymnasiums at Francis Howell North High School in St. Peters, Representative Parkinson approached me and again assured me that he had not seen any of my messages.  In response, I told him I found it odd that he had referred to me earlier as “the expert” – in much the same way Representative Bahr had in his aforementioned email — even though he said he had not seen any of the messages related to me.  The conversation ended there, and I went back to my seat in the bleachers.

A few hours after the caucus ended, Representative Parkinson sent me the Facebook message below, shown verbatim:

Bob…after an exhaustive search of my inbox (mark.parkinson@house.mo.gov) I can not find any corresoondence from you on this issue. I don’t check facebook mail often (or at all). Please direct any official correspondence to the above email address.

We can discuss this issue when we sit down to discuss the other.

Mark

My response — “Mark – Perhaps you should look more closely. See screenshot of the message to you from my email “SENT” folder. – Bob” — was accompanied by a screenshot (taken March 18 and shown below) as evidence that Representative Parkinson had received the same message that all of his colleagues received.

Is it possible that Representative Parkinson is just computer illiterate?  Sure, it’s possible.  But I think that’s a stretch.

Instead, I believe he received my message but chose to ignore it.  My belief is augmented by the fact that my email message sent to the five state representatives did not produce any bounce-back messages like those I received on a handful of occasions in the past after I had used incorrect email addresses when trying to communicate with Missouri legislators.  [FYI:  As of this publication, I have still not received any email response from Representative Parkinson.]

Finally, it’s certainly worth noting that I ran into Representative Conway at the caucus, too.

During two brief discussions, she (1) seemed to express genuine interest in the matter, (2) told me she had read the materials to which I had provided links, and (3) gave me the feeling she would follow up on the matter.  Then, lo and behold, she contacted me via Facebook message to let me know she had contacted MDHSS and had more questions.  So much for that “initial impression” I mentioned early in this piece.

Sadly, the other state representatives’ responses and failures to respond raise more questions then they answer.

That in mind, I would like to offer a suggestion to readers (1) who live in one of the zip codes (63301, 63303, 63304, 63366 and 63376) covered by the cancer report, (2) who live in a zip code near the Weldon Spring Site or (3) who simply think these state legislators should be interested in this matter.  Use the information below to contact them in Jefferson City and let them know:

Rep. Kurt Bahr — 573-751-9768 or Kurt.Bahr@house.mo.gov;

Rep. Kathie Conway — 573-751-2250 or Kathie.Conway@house.mo.gov;

Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger — 573-751-3572 or Chuck.Gatschenberger@house.mo.gov;

Rep. Mark Parkinson — 573-751-2949 or Mark.Parkinson@house.mo.gov; and

Rep. Anne Zerr — 573-751-3717 or Anne.Zerr@house.mo.gov.

UPDATE 3/28/12 at 5:12 p.m. Central:  Though they don’t have time to investigate serious public health issues, members of the Missouri House of Representatives voted today in favor of making jumping jacks the official state exercise.  Hmmm?

UNRELATED, BUT WORTH A LOOK:  Check out my book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.

Coming Soon: Radiation Exposure-Related Lawsuits (UPDATE)

Radiation exposure-related lawsuits are likely to be filed soon, according to Marc J. Bern, senior partner at the New York City-based law firm, Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik LLP., who spoke before a crowd of potential clients in St. Louis Thursday.

KMOV-TV Reporter Marc Cox interviews Edwardsville, Ill., attorney Christopher W. Byron following a meeting about radiation exposure-related lawsuits expected to be filed soon in the St. Louis area.

The venue was a 12th-floor meeting room at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel.  The time was 1 p.m. Central.  The event was billed as a “Town Hall Meeting” in the flyer circulated in advance on Facebook.  Everyone who attended received a folder containing information about nuclear contamination as well as a legal form via which they could become clients of Bern’s firm and/or Edwardsville, Ill.-based Byron Carlson Petri & Kalb, LLC, who co-hosted the meeting.

Based upon how Bern performed in front of a crowd of about six-dozen people (not including lawyers), the 60-ish attorney who said he’s been practicing law for more than three decades knows what buttons to push.

After being introduced by BCPK attorney Christopher W. Byron, Bern told the crowd he had brought with him a team of attorneys and noted that many of them had graduated from New York’s Pace Law School, an institution at which well-known environmental activist Bobby Kennedy Jr. serves as a professor of environmental law.  He wanted everyone in the room to know he thinks highly of their skills.

Next, Bern adeptly employed a full complement of persuasive words as he spoke about his firm’s broad-ranging knowledge and experience – much of it gained while representing 9-11 families and numerous others in high-profile lawsuits — and how his firm’s legal talents might be brought to bear against whomever was responsible for the human suffering in the Coldwater Creek area north of St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport.

A question-and-answer session of similar duration followed and, not surprisingly, Bern smoothly and easily answered a dozen or so questions that had been submitted during a short break by the potential clients in the room.

By the time the session ended, I knew lawsuits are on their way to St. Louis and will likely be focused on alleged victims of radiation exposure who live — or lived — in places like Florissant, Hazelwood and a half-dozen other communities.  Now, the St. Louis region needs to brace itself for what could turn into a protracted legal battle during which the words “radiation exposure” and “cancer” will likely be used often.

Also worth sharing is the report (above) filed by Marc Cox of KMOV-TV and broadcast this evening.

UPDATE 2/29/12 at 6:23 a.m. Central:  According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report, the first lawsuit was filed Tuesday.

SEE ALSO:

Seventeen days ago, I shared my first report about how Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services officials refused to answer questions about a new Weldon Spring cancer report;

Fifteen days ago, radio talk show host Dana Loesch read that report and had me on The Dana Show to talk about it; and

Six days ago, I was contacted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s medical reporter, Blythe Bernhard, who said she had read my report and would be writing stories about the subject soon.

Click here to see all related stories.

Local News Outlets Interested in Weldon Spring

Eleven days after publishing an exclusive story about Missouri health agency officials refusing to answer questions or inform St. Charles County (Mo.) residents about a new Weldon Spring cancer report, it appears that story is beginning to attract attention from St. Louis-area news media outlets.

Click here to read related stories.

Yesterday, I received an email from Blythe Bernhard, medical reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  She wrote that she wanted to talk with me about the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ 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 called Bernhard at the phone number she had provided and, during the brief conversation that followed, she asked what concerned me most about the report.

Most importantly, I told her it wasn’t the report’s data as much as it was the ways in which MDHSS officials worded the report and failed to make its contents known to people living near the Weldon Spring Site, located in a once-rural area 30 miles west of St. Louis.

After admitting that I’m not a scientific expert, I pointed out the two seemingly-conflicting conclusions that appear in the report’s “Updated Analysis” section:

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).

and

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.

In addition, I told her agency officials’ refusal to answer simple questions about the report and their failure to make the report’s existence known to the public — especially to people living within the five zip codes targeted by the report — raised red flags in my mind and prompted me to want to learn more.

I also shared some of the feedback I had received from readers and made sure she knew that I could not confirm the accuracy of some of the tips I received without much more investigation.

Bernhard said she’s working on the story about which her report(s) should begin hitting as early as next week.

Worth noting is the fact that I was also contacted Jan. 26 by KMOV-TV‘s Brian Feldman.  Though he expressed interest in the story, I’ve found no evidence to date that the local CBS affiliate’s reporter has pursued it.

Also worth noting:  Near the end of my Jan. 23 story, I wrote that , “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.”  Today, however, I can report that another group of lawyers is holding two “Town Hall Meetings” Feb. 9, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel.

The online flyer about the event — found on the Facebook page, Coldwater Creek – Just the facts Please — mentions Florissant, Hazelwood and a half-dozen other communities north of St. Louis, but makes no mention of any St. Charles County communities.  Still, I’m willing to bet those lawyers won’t turn anyone away from their “rainmaking” sessions.

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.”

Think Twice Before You Think Pink

Pink clothing.  Races billed as events that raise funds for breast cancer research.  On the surface, the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s efforts to fight breast cancer appear to be noble and worthwhile.  After reading the information below, however, I think you’ll want to think twice before you think pink again.

THE BIG NEWS:  Susan G. Komen Foundation contributes millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood and to embryonic stem cell research every year.

New figures directly from the Komen for the Cure foundation show 18 affiliates of the breast cancer charity gave a total of more than $569,000 to the Planned Parenthood abortion business in 2010, according to a LifeNews report Thursday.

The news about Komen’s support of the world’s largest abortion provider came barely a month after a LifeNews report July 19 which revealed that Komen sent almost $11 million to major universities and other research organizations for embryonic stem cell research in 2010.

Komen’s funding of these efforts didn’t begin in 2010.  Not at all.

According to a LifeNews report Oct. 12, 2010, contributions by Komen affiliates to Planned Parenthood totaled $731,303 in 2009 — part of the total of $3.3 million they gave to the abortion business from 2004-2009.

Surprised by this news?  You shouldn’t be.  It’s been out there since 2007 (and possibly earlier).

Now that you know the truth, please (1) think twice before you decide to race for any cure, (2) make sure you know how funds raised are spent and (3) share this news with your friends who think pink.

If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Follow me on Twitter @BloggingMachine. Thanks in advance for your support!

Is Smoker-in-Chief Giving Up Cigarettes Today?

A cloud is hanging over the Oval Office as Americans wonder whether or not Smoker-in-Chief Barack Obama is giving up cigarettes during today’s Great American Smokeout.

Truth be told, one would hardly know the event that takes place annually on the third Thursday of November is taking place today.

As of this posting at noon Central today, few in the mainstream media had even mentioned the annual event online and none — NOT ONE! — had broached the subject of whether or not Smoker-in-Chief Barack Obama, the nation’s top elected official and an on-again-off-again smoker, would refrain from toking on his “cancer sticks” for at least 24 hours as his way of encouraging others to quit.

In case you doubt me, run a Google Advanced Search of the word, “Obama”, and the exact phrase, “Great American Smokeout”, and see what you find.  That search produced only nine results.  Only one mentioned the president’s name, but none mentioned it in reference to the day set aside for a break from smoking.  In addition, a Google Advanced News Search of the exact phrase, “Great American Smokeout”, yielded barely 600 results.

Could it be that members of the Fourth Estate are more interested in maintaining a smoke-free image for the president than they are in reporting the truth about his personal habits?  Seems that way.

The last time President Obama’s smoking habit made news was just over two weeks ago in the sixth paragraph of a Nov. 3 article in the UK’s Daily Mail:

The unnamed ‘insider’ quoted by the report insisted that Mr Obama was working ‘non-stop’ – and that he was not chain-smoking.