Records obtained by three media outlets show that the federal government and private companies ignored and downplayed the threat of radioactive contamination in the St. Louis area for nearly 75 years.

According to the Missouri Independent, MuckRock, and the Associated Press, radioactive waste stored near Coldwater Creek in St. Louis County posed a threat to nearby residents as early as 1949. The report cites increased cancer rates among people living on and near Coldwater Creek. It also profiles three people who swam and played in the creek when they were children in the 1960’s and 70’s. One of them died of cancer last year and a second one is a breast cancer survivor.

The U.S. government manufactured nuclear materials used in the atomic bomb during World War Two at a plant in downtown St. Louis. Radioactive waste generated by building the nuclear weapons was stored in 1946 at a site near both the St. Louis Airport and Coldwater Creek. The steel drums containing the waste was left out in the open, exposed to the elements.

The report says documents show the feds knew about the potential health risks of the creek but shrugged them off as “slight,” “minimal,” or “low-level.” The documents for the report were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The full report can be viewed here.

State Reps. Tricia Byrnes, Doug Clemens, and Richard West, alongside St. Charles County Councilman Joe Brazil, and members of the community will hold a news conference Thursday to call on Missouri’s leaders, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the federal government to work to resolve the nuclear waste problems in their area.

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