Around the time of World War II, the United States government started the Manhattan Project which involved the research and development of nuclear weapons. St. Louis, Missouri and the surrounding areas were home to several different factories where materials for this project were processed. Many of these materials and the waste produced while processing them were extremely hazardous. This section will discuss the different factories that were operational in the 1940s and beyond. They will be organized in terms
One of the main companies that was working alongside the federal agencies in charge of operations was Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. Mallinckrodt factories are linked to contamination all across the region, specifically to the Weldon Spring Site in St. Charles, the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, and Coldwater Creek which flows primarily through Florrisant.
There were two primary factories that were operational in this time. One was located in Downtown St. Louis and is now referred to as the St. Louis Downtown Site. It is still operational and is still owned by Mallinckrodt, but is now manufacturing pharmaceuticals.
In addition to their partnership with Mallinckrodt, the Atomic Energy Commission also worked with the Atlas Powder Company to establish the Weldon Spring Ordnance Works. The land that the ordnance works was built on was originally home to hundreds of people who were displaced when the government seized over 15,000 acres for use in producing TNT and DNT, explosives, for WWII.
This site, along with the chemical plant which was active after the war and processed uranium, were huge contributors to the environmental contamination in this area. Today, the land that was owned by the government has been divided up and is now owned by the US Army, the University of Missouri, the state, and Francis Howell School District. It is home to a several thousand acre nature reserve where fallout shelters peek out of tree lines, a military training base, and a high school. The land owned by the University of Missouri, which is not currently zoned for permanent habitation, may be converted into a subdivision.
The Atomic Energy Commission was a US agency in charge of researching atomic technology after WWII. The AEC was given complete control over all of the plants, equipment, and people that were assembled during the war starting in 1947.
Images courtesy of the Untied States Department of Energy unless otherwise noted