Tag Archives: Weldon Spring Cancer Report

GROUNDHOG DAY: Missouri Health Department Official Tight-Lipped About Cancer Report Due for 2016 Release

“Bob, I am unable to speculate on any potential further updates at this time. As you may be aware, all information released for the department is available here. Thanks, Ryan.” When I read those words from Ryan Hobart, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, in an email message Tuesday afternoon, I felt like I was in the middle of a serious remake of “Groundhog Day.”

Click on image above to visit page Ryan Hobart, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, suggested I visit in lieu of providing me with answers.

Click on image above to visit page Ryan Hobart, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, suggested I visit in lieu of providing me with answers.

I call it a “serious remake” of the 1993 Bill Murray film, but not because it has something to do with the public health dangers associated with the long-term storage of radioactive waste at a place known as the Weldon Spring Site, located in a once-rural area about 30 miles west of St. Louis. Instead, his message reminds me of “Groundhog Day” because it’s so similar to the correspondence I had received from Hobart’s predecessor two spokespersons removed, Jacqueline Lapine.

When I tried, during a nine-month period in 2011, to find out from Lapine when the long-overdue five-year update to the 2005 Weldon Spring Cancer Report would be released by officials at the state agency responsible for keeping citizens in the Show-Me State informed about monitoring efforts at Weldon Spring, she gave me nothing useful.

It wasn’t until shortly after 5 p.m. Dec. 29, 2011, that I finally received a copy of the 2011 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.” It came as an attachment to an email message from Gena Terlizzi, the woman who replaced Lapine who, presumably, moved on to new challenges.

To fully understand the issues at Weldon Spring, read this article before continuing.

Read about my "Uphill Battle for Answers" at http://bobmccarty.com/?p=1949.

The investigation that led to my first article about Weldon Springs in January 2012 (see screenshot above) began with state health department officials being very tight-lipped about the 2011 Weldon Spring Cancer Report. Read about it at http://bobmccarty.com/?p=1949.

Now, back to Hobart’s message highlighted at the top of this piece. It wasn’t our first exchange.

Our online conversation dates back to the morning of Oct. 21 and an email message I sent to Hobart:

Dear Ryan:

Five years ago, I communicated with your predecessors, Jaqueline Lapine and Gena Terlizzi, regarding the Weldon Spring Site where radioactive waste is stored in St. Charles County, Mo.

Because I had read in your agency’s 2005 Weldon Spring Cancer Report that the authors recommended “the Cancer Inquiry Program should continue to monitor the cancer incidence and mortality rates in Weldon Spring and its surrounding areas,” I asked for — and eventually obtained — a copy of the 2011 Weldon Spring Cancer Inquiry Report.

Today, I’m repeating the process in hopes of obtaining an update about your agency’s forthcoming release of a 2016 Weldon Spring Cancer Report.

With several national news media outlets, including CBS Evening News and the The Los Angeles Times, reporting recently about the inherent dangers of radioactive waste in the St. Louis County neighborhoods along Coldwater Creek colliding with an underground fire at the nearby Westlake Landfill, it’s imperative that your agency be transparent when it comes to testing and monitoring at the Weldon Spring Site.

At your earliest opportunity, I would like you to provide answers to the following questions:

1. When do officials at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services expect to release another five-year follow-up report (a.k.a., “2016 Weldon Spring Cancer Report”)? and

2. Who, within the agency, is in charge of producing the five-year follow-up report?

Please let me know ASAP if you have questions or anticipate any delay beyond 48 hours in responding to my questions. Thanks in advance for your prompt reply.

Sincerely,

Bob McCarty

After five days passed without an answer, I left a phone message with Hobart Monday morning and followed up by sending another email message: “Are you ignoring me on purpose? I’ve emailed — twice now — and I left a phone message three hours ago.”

“Sorry for the delay,” he replied two hours later. “I will be back in touch as soon as I have responsive information to share.”

Almost 24 hours later, I responded: “Ryan, As a long-time veteran of public affairs work, I must say that six days is an unacceptably-slow response time and that delaying the release of bad information — if that is, indeed, the reason for your delay — never works out well for the organization behind the delay.”

Two more days passed, and I received a mid-Tuesday afternoon message from Hobart: “Bob, I am unable to speculate on any potential further updates at this time. As you may be aware, all information released for the department is available here: http://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/chronic/cancerinquiry/reports.php#weldon. Thanks, Ryan.”

I responded two hours later: “Well, that’s a lame answer, because I’m not asking you to speculate. I’m asking you to tell me whether the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will be releasing an update on the 2005 Weldon Spring Cancer Report and the 2011 Weldon Spring Update. If public funds are being spent on preparing such a report, it is your agency’s obligation to inform the public as to how that money is being spent and when they might expect to see any official update.”

I ended my message by asking Hobart a question and sounding something like a game show host: “Is this your final answer, because it is about to go national. I’ll give you one more chance — 24 hours, to come clean — before the gloves come off.”

At 9:24 a.m. today, I asked Hobart one last time if he was going to provide me with genuine answers. He didn’t reply, so the gloves are off.

Stay tuned for more developments.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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Bob McCarty’s Weekly Recap: Jan. 25-31

My recap for the week of Jan. 25 offers looks at a wide variety of topics — some of them radioactive!  Hope you enjoy and share what you find at BobMcCarty.com!

On Jan. 25, I found a check — dated Sept. 14, 1970, and payable to yours truly that appears to have never been cashed — and decided to look up the bank online to see if I might be able to cash it today.  I was astounded by what I discovered. Details in my post, Author Finds Uncashed Check in Box of Memories!

I found this check while rummaging through a box of old photos recently acquired from my parents.

Click on image above to read article.

As an author who recently spoke to law enforcement investigators from around the world about my second nonfiction book, I was intrigued by the findings of a recent scientific study about why innocent people confess to crimes. Read about it in my Jan. 26 post, Why Innocent People Confess to Crimes; Scientific Study Supports Findings of Nonfiction Book, The Clapper Memo.

Click image above to read article.

Click on image above to read article.

On Jan. 27, I shared a link on my Facebook page to an article about former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko who is thought to have been poisoned with polonium-210 on Oct. 16 and Nov. 1, 2006. Along with that link, I wrote, “This reminds me of something I read — after I wrote it, that is — in my just-released crime-fiction novel, The National Bet.”

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Click image above to order a copy of the book.

Twenty-nine years ago this week, I was a young Air Force second lieutenant attending the Public Affairs Officer Course at the Defense Information School, then located at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis. During a break from morning classes, I gathered with a dozen or so of my classmates from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps in front of a breakroom television to watch the Space Shuttle Challenger launch. I share more details about that day in my Jan. 28 post, Challenger Disaster Recalled 29 Years Later.

This photograph of the space shuttle Challenger accident Jan. 28, 1986, was taken by a 70mm tracking camera at UCS 15 south of Pad 39B, at 11:39:16.795 EST. (NASA photo)

Click on image above to read article.

After reading about Andrew Sullivan informing his readers about his decision “to stop blogging in the near future,” I felt obligated to offer him a belated “thank you” for the sarcastic honor he conferred upon me a few years back. Find out why I thanked him in my Jan. 28 post, Former Blogger Offers Sarcastic ‘Thank You’ to Sullivan.

McCarty Hewitt Nomination 4-01-2010

Click on image above to read article.

On Jan. 29, I offered a look back at a subject to which Americans should pay attention as the 2016 swings into gear. Details appear under the headline, FLASHBACK 2009: Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’ Reviewed.

Saul Alinsky 'Rules for Radicals' Rule 13

Click on image above to read article.

Also on Jan. 29, my attention was drawn to news about the Malaysian government declaring the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 an “accident. On my Facebook page, I wrote:

No worries. It was simply an accident. Barely a month ago at http://bobmccarty.com/?p=1654, I couldn’t help but try to draw connections between Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-370 that disappeared in March and a second Malaysia-owned jetliner that also disappeared. Do you believe MH-370 was an accident? Do you think there’s a connection between the two incidents?

The last item worth noting about Jan. 29 is the fact that I went to see the film, American Sniper, at a theater. Upon returning from that experience, I had a Facebook message conversation with Kelly Stewart, the former Army Green Beret sniper — and sniper instructor — whose life story is chronicled in my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August:

Me: “I went and saw American Sniper today. Did you see it Saturday? Thoughts? I thought it seemed a little too much Hollywood. Am I right?

Stewart:  “Haven’t seen it yet. Gonna wait ’til it’s on DVD.”

Me: “I wish I had saved my money until it was at RedBox instead of wasting big $$ at theater.”

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Click image above to order book.

While Chris Kyle’s exploits are legendary, the film seemed to lack the kind of emotion I expected to see. And, perhaps I’m biased, but I think Stewart’s story would make a better film.

Because another updated Weldon Spring (Mo.) Cancer Report is due to be released by early January 2016, I decided to revisit the subject of radioactive contamination dangers in the St. Louis area. Read about it in my Jan. 30 post, New Weldon Spring Cancer Report Due Out Early 2016.

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

Click on image above to read article.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you’ll buy my books to ensure my work continues.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.