- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A federal agency has announced that it plans to study radiological contamination at a north St. Louis County creek that some residents are concerned may be linked to several cases of cancer.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1YKuUtv ) reports the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry announced plans last month to gather information on contamination at Coldwater Creek for the next 18 to 24 months. The agency met with residents for the first time on Wednesday.

“Hopefully this helps us say these illnesses that we’re seeing in this community may have been caused by this environmental contamination,” said Erin Evans, an environmental health specialist with the agency.

Evans tried to ease residents’ fears that the agency’s findings would be influenced by other federal agencies wary of cleanup costs.

“We are an independent, non-regulatory agency,” she said. “I get my pressure from you.”

Since 2013, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been going downstream on the creek removing soil contaminated by uranium processing waste from a nuclear weapons program in a government storage site near Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

The Corps had found contamination in residential backyards and parks in Hazelwood that are located along Coldwater Creek. The agency says the processing waste is similar to material that was dumped in the West Lake Landfill, but it does not believe that resident of Bridgeton have been exposed to the waste.

The Missouri health department is also looking at whether cancer cases in the area around the creek are connected to contaminated water. The St. Louis County Health Department plans a health survey of people who grew up in the area in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Some residents think the study will confirm what they already know health issues that some in the area who grew up playing in Coldwater Creek and its contamination. Residents have been collecting disease information from neighbors and relatives who grew up near Hazelwood and Florissant, where the creek runs past backyards and sometimes flooded.

Maureen Kolkmeyer, who lived near the creek for 40 years said, “We all know we’ve been contaminated. We don’t need a department to come in and let us know.”

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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