There are a staggering number of cancers, illnesses and birth defects within a 4-mile radius in North St. Louis County, according to a KSDK Channel 5 News report that aired last night. A data expert says the
incidence rates are statically impossible.
The news report tells the story of Janell Wright and several of her high school classmates from McClure North who became concerned with the number of classmates being diagnosed with cancer. They started a Facebook group to keep track.
Wright started with 30 cases and tracked them on a map of North County. Within two months, the number had grown to 200. Now she has 700 self-reported cases within 4 square miles. The illnesses her classmates reported include brain cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, multiple sclerosis, lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, birth defects and more.
Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, another McClure North graduate and now an economist at Northwestern University, ran her own report. She told reporters her calculations showed the likelihood of so many cancers occurring among her high school classmates was a statistical improbability.
Residents believe the cancer cluster is linked to radioactive waste processed by Mallinckrodt Chemical Works and dumped on 21-acres near the St. Louis airport. The waste was stored in barrels or in open
piles. In the 1960s, government records showed the barrels were rusting and leaking into Coldwater Creek – the same creek that runs through the neighborhoods of many North County communities.
Lawsuits are now being filed alleging the contamination of Coldwater Creek is linked to the unusually high rate of cancer in the community.
Tonight, a follow-up investigation will run during the 10 o’clock news hour detailing how a portion of the radioactive waste was transported to West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton and the troubling concerns residents are facing there.