The Weldon Spring Quarry was used as a dump site for waste products from the uranium processing plants from the 1940s to the 1960s. Located only about a mile from the local high school, where students weren't included in conversations about the contamination in the area, the quarry was a popular site for teenage shenanigans. Often, kids would sneak through the fencing and go for a swim in the water which was too murky to be able to see the hundreds of barrels that had sank to the bottom. These barrels were degrading over time and leaking their contents into the water and contaminating the soil around its banks. The quarry was added to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) in 1987.
Located in St. Charles, MO, the Weldon Spring Site is now home to a 70' tall mountain of gravel that houses much of the waste that was cleaned up from the Weldon Spring Ordnance Works and Quarry. The disposal cell was completed in 2001 and it is continuously monitored for leaks. On the property, there is an interpretive site that functions as a museum to the factories and contamination of the immediate area and is a site for tourism, school field trips, and exploration of nature trails. A new, larger, building is currently under construction.
The landfill, located in Bridgeton, Missouri, is the center of the fight between the surrounding community and the EPA to address the health concerns of local people. The landfill was one of several sites that received hazardous, radioactive waste from the factories in the mid-1900s. It was thought that the materials would be contained in this location, and they were stored in a separate area from the other waste. Within the past few years, it has been discovered that there is a large underground fire that is slowing creeping towards where the radioactive materials are stored. If this fire were to reach this spot, there would be an explosion, sending radioactive particles airborne. Local officials have sent out emergency response plans to local residents and schools in case this were to happen. This would be a catastrophic event. Over the past two years, the EPA has begun designing a plan to prevent this.
St. Louis Airport Site/St. Louis Downtown Site
Waste from Manhattan era projects led by the Atomic Energy Commission and the Manhattan Engineer District were disposed of in these sites between 1946 and 1957. Waste was either left uncovered in the open or contained in metal drums which were stacked or buried. It remained onsite until it was purchased by a private company in 1966. It is likely that waste from this site contributed to the contamination of Coldwater Creek.
Coldwater Creek was contaminated through the effects of flooding and erosion of surrounding contaminated areas. Contaminated soil was carried into the creek, which in turn carried the contaminants along with it. It is believed that people who lived within close proximity to the creek are at a greater risk for certain cancers and other health issues linked to radiation exposure.
Images courtesy of the United States Department of Energy