NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. -- Three-hundred residents of North St. Louis County crowded into a local gym, anxious about what they would hear. Soil near the local creek was contaminated by improperly stored nuclear weapons waste in the 1960's and 70's, and people have been getting sick.
The Army Corps of Engineers was there to deliver the latest test results.
"Seven additional parcels have been identified," one official announced.
The seven new "hot spots," areas of low level nuclear contamination, were discovered as crews tested the creek this summer. The new sites include four commercial properties and three homes. Add in the five sites already slated for clean up, and that's 12 places in the area with contamination.
"They found a tumor the size of a golf ball," said Angela Powers. Last fall, she lost her 9-year-old grandchild Jordan to a brain tumor that is rare in children.
"If it came from this, wow, we want some answers. It's making me angry. She was my only grandchild."
It was a variety of rare illnesses that caught the attention of Jenelle Wright and her neighbors.
Four years ago, the group created a Facebook page that has since logged 2,700 cancers and autoimmune conditions around town. They begged federal health authorities to investigate.
"We've had to go through many battles, I don't even know if I can count all of them...literally calling an agency 30 times and not having them return your phone call."
This month, they finally got results. The Centers for Disease Control sent a health assessment team to document the residents stories, which could confirm a link between radiation and the illnesses.
Mary Oscko has stage four lung cancer and blames it on the contamination.
"If I shake the table enough, you can't eat your meal off of it. If I make enough noise, you'll want to listen to me. And we are now starting to make enough noise. We're standing up and saying "Hi, I'm Mary. I'm dying of cancer.'"
Residents are hoping the health study might result in compensation for their medical bills and their homes. But the assessment could take two years, and some folks like Oscko are worried they won't be around to see it concluded.
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