Second Coldwater Creek Lawsuit Filed Against Hazelwood-Based Covidien and Its Mallinckrodt Division
Both lawsuits include Hazelwood residents along with those from neighboring communities who feel their cancers and illnesses are a byproduct of living near the nuclear waste buried near Coldwater Creek.
North St. Louis County residents have filed a second lawsuit alleging that nuclear waste in Coldwater Creek, which is partially contained in the City of Hazelwood has caused their various illnesses including cancer, and for some death.
About the Lawsuits
Both lawsuits allege exposure to radioactive waste the Mallinckrodt chemical company produced, is the reason for the health issues. The second lawsuit includes a group of 16 people from Hazelwood, Florissant, Spanish Lake and St. Ann.
According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, nuclear waste was dumped near Lambert Saint Louis International Airport and contaminated Coldwater Creek starting in the 1940s through the 1950s. The area is considered an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site.
Documents express the residents report contracting various breast, testicular, brain and pancreatic cancers, Crohn's disease and other autoimmune disorders.
The first suit was filed in February when North County residents had similar allegations of negligence that caused their illnesses.
Coping with Cancer and the Unknown
At a meeting on Wednesday, those interested in the suit and affected by living near the contamination sites met with some of the lead attorneys handling the suits.
There is also conversation on social media about the subject, and a Facebook group devoted to the cause where members have to request access and get approval from the group administrator. It's a space for camaraderie, counseling and encouragement. According to the group page, some of those involved in the cases have died and are suing through their relatives. Those that have connected through Facebook and other social media sites mention the fear of years of exposure including many whom mention creek water floods into their basements each year.
Mallinckrodt Official Stance
Lynn Phillips, media relations manager at Covidien in Hazelwood sent Hazelwood Patch its official statement on the matter which states Mallinckrodt has nothing to do with remediation efforts.
"The St. Louis Airport Site was used for disposal of demolition debris from buildings decommissioned and demolished nearly 50 years ago by a third party demolition contractor under the oversight of the US government. Some of this debris was from buildings formerly used for uranium processing dating back to the 1940s at a Mallinckrodt site in St. Louis. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in coordination with the Department of Energy is now responsible for the environmental remediation of the St. Louis Airport Site, which includes Coldwater Creek, under its Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program. This remediation is nearly complete. Mallinckrodt is not involved in the remediation activities that have been conducted at the St. Louis Airport Site."
Mallinckrodt is not the only corporation listed in the suit. Several companies involved in the manufacture and disposal of the nuclear waste are also listed at the statement explains.
According to documents, uranium was processed at the Mallinckrodt chemical company in downtown St. Louis for atomic bomb production during World War II. The radioactive byproducts were dumped at an open storage site near the airport through the 1950s. Waste was also buried near Coldwater Creek. A warning sign still hangs on a fence bordering the north side of the airport off James S. McDonnell Boulevard.
In the 1990s, soil and water testing in and around the creek showed unsafe levels of uranium and thorium. Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal discussed her concerns and hope for the EPA'a remediation of the areas surrounding the creek and other North County contaminated sites on Patch in March.
Cleanup of the designated waste sites became the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers in 1997, which said work is close to completion, a spokesman told STLtoday.com.
The Corps also said residents aren't at risk, but according St. Louis Public Radio, one of the lead attorneys for the plaintiffs in the suits, Marc Bern, said 22 types of cancer have been linked to exposure from ionizing radiation. Those cancers include types of leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma.
Current North County residents have significantly higher rates of cancer and chronic diseases compared to the rest of the county and the state, something which Chappelle-Nadal also discussed on Patch.