Woman Continues Fight After Losing Mother, Granddaughter

A St. Louis-area woman who once told me she sometimes feels like the grief-stricken women in the 2008 film, “Changeling,” continues to fight for justice despite losing two very special people in her life due to actions taken by out-of-control government bureaucrats.

ChangelingUnder the headline, Government Burning Family Tree at Both Ends, I shared the horrifying true story of Janet (not her real name) Sept. 15, 2011.  It revolves around Janet’s two-pronged battle with county and state agencies in Missouri.

One of Janet’s battles involves fighting to obtain custody of her granddaughter after her daughter was no longer fit to care for the child.  Yesterday, she informed me that her granddaughter had been adopted out to a family in a far-away state about 18 months ago in a process that showed no regard for a state statute which requires Children’s Division officials to give preference and first consideration for foster care placement to grandparents of a child.

Janet’s other battle involved fighting to free her mother from a restricted-access long-term care facility.  It’s the same facility about which her mother’s physician once wrote “placement at this time would not be in the best interest of (Janet’s mother) with respect to her mental and physical health.”  According to Janet, her mother was drugged out of her mind for most of the time she spent in the facility and, during her last days of life — which happened to coincide with the date on which her long-term care insurance coverage ended — had food and water withheld from her.

While Janet said she cries about it every day, she seems at a loss as to what to do as she tries to get her granddaughter back.  Regarding her mother’s case, however, she is continuing to fight and claims to have many documents as well as months of videotape evidence regarding her mother’s maltreatment.  In addition, she is trying to obtain a copy of a toxicology report at this time and has enlisted the help of a local television reporter who has shown an interest in her case.

I plan to take a look at the documentation Janet has amassed very soon.  Stay tuned!

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Massive Underground Landfill Fire Nears Radioactive Waste

A massive, smoldering, underground fire at a St. Louis-area landfill is on the verge of coming in contact with radioactive waste dumped decades ago, and no one seems to know how to deal with it.  That’s what I learned during a public forum about the issue Thursday night in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights.

Rather than rehash who said what at the forum, I direct your attention to reports by KSDK reporter Grant Bissell (above) and Leisa Zigman (below) which combine to offer a snapshot of the most-pressing concerns of residents in North St. Louis County.

In short, a massive underground fire — which covers a subterranean area the size of three football fields — at the Bridgeton Landfill is about to come in contact with radioactive waste dumped decades earlier at the adjacent West Lake Landfill.

Why was radioactive waste dumped at the landfill?  Unbeknownst to many area residents, St. Louis was home to Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, a company that was the first to process uranium for use in our nation’s first atomic bombs as part of the World War II-era Manhattan Project.  After running out of space for the radioactive waste from their processing efforts, they began shipping it to other area locations, including the West Lake Landfill.  It remains there today.  On the surface of the Missouri River flood plain.  Exposed to the elements.

Click to read more reports in my coverage about radioactive waste in the St. Louis area.

Click to read more reports in my coverage about radioactive waste in the St. Louis area.

Aside from the long-term public health crisis involving what many residents describe as “cancer clusters” and other deadly affects of long-term radiation exposure, the most-pressing immediate concern is the fact no one on the planet seems to have experience dealing with this dangerous intersection where fire and radioactive waste collide.

As I stated in my most recent post, RADIOACTIVE WASTE CRISIS Like Plot From A Horror Film, I’ll be following the issues in North County closely.  Meanwhile, though I cannot attest to the accuracy of all of the information the websites below contain, I recommend you visit them to learn more about the potential scope of this crisis:

Coldwater Creek, Just the Facts Facebook Page;

Coldwater Creek Facts;

St. Louis Radiation Waste Legacy;

Weldon Spring Facebook Page; and

West Lake Landfill Facebook Page.

UPDATE 1/31/2014 at 7:09 p.m. Central:  Many of the members of the groups above are particularly in seeing the Army Corps of Engineers replace the EPA as the lead agency on cleaning up the radioactive waste sites in St. Louis.  If this news is any indication, I’d say they’re on the right track.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

RADIOACTIVE WASTE CRISIS Like Plot From A Horror Film

One might mistake it for a plot out of a horror film or a slow-motion Fukushima disaster:  Underground fires at one landfill move closer and closer toward radioactive waste dumped decades earlier at another landfill.  At the same time, thousands of citizens, including many already suffering from a plethora of what they believe to be radiation-related diseases, are seeking help from the “powers that be.”

Slide of Fires at St. Louis-Area Landfill

Representatives of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment presented an overview of the danger as underground fires at one landfill approach another landfill where radioactive waste was dumped decades ago.

On the evening of Jan. 15, I was one of almost 200 people who attended an informational meeting in Bridgeton, Mo., during which the issues above were discussed in great detail.  Among those in attendance were a handful of individuals who described how their lives had been changed forever by losses of loved ones to supposedly-rare cancers.  They were introduced as being representative of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of families in the area of North St. Louis County (a.k.a., “North County”) forever impacted in similar ways.

Yesterday, a fellow attendee at the meeting forwarded a copy of a 142-page report (PDF) published in May 1982 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  If you don’t want to download the entire report, however, the abstract alone is enough to cause you to pause.  Below, I share an excerpt from that abstract, complete with my red highlighting added for emphasis:

Click to download the 142-page report (PDF).

Click to download the 142-page report (PDF).

Results indicate that large volumes of uranium ore residues, probably originating from the Hazelwood, Missouri, Latty Avenue site, have been buried at the West Lake Landfill.  Two areas of contamination, covering more than 15 acres and located at depths of up to 20 feet below the present surface, have been identified.  There is no indication that significant quantities of contaminants are moving off-site at this time.

Fifteen acres of land contaminated with radioactive uranium ore residues at depths up to 20 feet below the surface and, oh yeah, elsewhere in the report in mentions that the landfill is in an alluvial floodplain, seemingly discounting the reliability of the last line in the excerpt from the 32-year-old report.

Click to read more reports in my coverage about radioactive waste in the St. Louis area.

Click to read more reports in my coverage about radioactive waste at the Weldon Spring Site in St. Charles County, Mo.

The NRC report is not, however, the first I have obtained about radioactive waste issues in the Show-Me State.  On Jan. 23, 2012, I was the only investigative reporter on the planet to report the existence of a then-new Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services 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.”

During the 13 months since publishing the first article, I published nine more articles (not including this one) in my series, Uphill Battle for Answers.  The two most-recent articles, here and here, introduced my readers to matters at the sites in North County.

Because of the intense interest surfacing in this subject matter, I’ve decided to expand my coverage of the issues in North County during the next year.  Until I begin sharing new reports, however, I suggest you read the Wall Street Journal‘s Dec. 29 report, Neighbors Fume at Radioactive Dump, by John Emshwiller and search online for other recent stories.

This will be interesting, so stay tuned.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Snow or Beach?

I woke up this morning and sent my wife some photos of the 6 to 9 inches of snow we’ve received in the St. Louis area since 9:30 p.m. Friday.  In response, she sent me a picture of the environment where she is today.  Snow or beach?  I think she has the better deal.  Agree?

Snow-BeachNuff said.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

List of Top Local Authors in St. Louis Includes…

Today, I came across news that I’m listed as a Top Local Author in St. Louis on the KMOX-AM/CBS St. Louis website.

TopLocalAuthors St Louis 6-1-13My second nonfiction book, The CLAPPER MEMO, was released in May 2013.  In it, I connect the dots between a 2007 memo signed by James R. Clapper Jr. — before he began serving as Director of National Intelligence (i.e., our nation’s top intelligence official) — and hundreds of American and Coalition Forces casualties in Afghanistan.  To learn more about the book, visit TheClapperMemo.com.

My first nonfiction book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, was released in October 2011.  In it, I chronicle the life story and wrongful conviction of Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, a highly-decorated Green Beret combat veteran.  To learn more about the book, visit ThreeDaysInAugust.com.

To order one or both of these books, click here or on the image below.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Thanks to CBS St. Louis writer Lisa Payne-Naeger for including me on the list!

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.

Do Residents Living Near Weldon Spring Site Deserve Compensation for Radiation Exposure?

Do residents living in neighborhoods near a former EPA Superfund site 30 miles west of St. Louis deserve compensation for being exposed to radioactive materials?  The answer to that question could very well be “Yes.”

Click image to read related stories.

Located adjacent State Highway 94 in a once-rural section of St. Charles County, Mo., the Weldon Spring (Mo.) Site 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.  It was the enrichment of uranium ore and thorium processing that took place from 1958 to 1966, however, that resulted in workers at the Atomic Energy Commission site being exposed to dangerously-high levels of radiation.  In 1987, the site made the list of the EPA’s most-hazardous properties.  NOTE:  More details about the site’s history, according to the DOE, can be found here.

The Weldon Spring Site has a lot in common with other trouble-filled sites under the purview of the federal government — in this case, the U.S. Department of Energy.  One is the Fernald Site 22 miles north of Cincinnati.

Though it operated on a smaller scale than its Show-Me State sister site, workers there are said to have performed largely the same tasks and, on occasion, handled overflow from Weldon Spring.

According to a report in The New York Times, those same workers were parties to a 1994 settlement with DOE that guarantees them lifetime benefits expected to cost the federal government at least $20 million.  Similarly, according to a news release April 4, workers at the Missouri site were parties to a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor that has paid them more than $39 million in compensation to date.

When one compares how residents living near the two sites have fared, one finds Ohioans better off — at least financially — than their neighbors almost 400 miles to the west.

This sign greets visitors as they enter the complex surrounding the “rock pile” at the Weldon Spring Site.

In 1989, according to the same Times article, some 14,000 residents living near the Fernald Site reached a $78 million settlement with DOE.  Conversely, no lawsuits have been filed and no settlements have been reached on behalf of any of the tens of thousands of residents living near the Missouri site.

Though officials with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services have, for more than three months, refused to answer questions about their controversial 2011 Weldon Spring Cancer Report and have done virtually nothing to inform the media or the public — not even the people living in five zip codes where leukemia and leukemia death rates were studied — about the findings of their report, I suspect personal-injury lawyers will find at least two statements in the report too tempting to pass up.

The first statement (below) echoes bureaucratic doublespeak:

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).

The second statement (below) appears a short while later in the report and 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.

Sadly, four out of five dentists who chew gum Missouri state legislators I contacted about the report seem inclined to ignore it completely, to discount it’s findings, to procrastinate about it and/or to simply shoot the messenger — me! — delivering questions about it.  Regardless of their predictable election-year reactions, the controversy is not likely to go away.

As I reported in an update following my attendance — as an observer, not a prospective client — at a litigant-recruitment meeting in St. Louis two months ago, the same group of New York City-based lawyers who represented first responders after 9/11 has already filed one lawsuit related to radiation exposure in the Coldwater Creek area of St. Louis.  In addition, they’ve dropped some super-sized hints about the possibility of even more lawsuits — perhaps involving residents living near the Weldon Spring Site!

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that those attorneys are holding their second Coldwater Creek “rainmaking session” Wednesday at 6 p.m. Central at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel.  The graphic at right holds the details.

CRASS COMMERCIAL MESSAGE:  Order a copy of my book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.