Coldwater Creek Residents React to Cancer Study

Federal report links time spent in the radioactive creek to cancers

Kevin Killeen
June 27, 2018 - 5:20 pm

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FLORISSANT, Mo. (KMOX) - The feds are in town, getting reaction to their report linking Coldwater Creek to cancer.

The CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry held the first of two public hearings Wednesday after releasing its report last week.

The study found that residents who played in or lived along the creek during the era from 1960 to the 1990s may have an increased risk of bone or lung cancer, leukemia, and skin or breast cancer.

Wendy Lametta grew up along the creek in Florissant. She says on hot summer days when there was nothing to do, she and her siblings would slosh through creek to cool off or look for golf balls from the nearby golf course.

She says she now has been diagnosed with thyroid problems, tumors and infertility.

"I believe that the exposure to ionizing radiation from Coldwater Creek is the reason for all of my health problems," Lametta said.

Former Florissant resident Kim Visintine - who founded the group that first sounded the alarm on cancer clusters in the area - says she grew up playing in the creek, and later gave birth to a son with a rare brain cancer. Her son died an infant.

Kevin Killeen/KMOX

"We are the first generation of kids who grew up in homes in North County," Visintine said, "and we played in the creek starting in the 1960s through the 1980s."

Visintine estimates there are some 6,000 people with cancers who spent time in the creek.

The 19-mile creek snakes through most of North County. The original source of contamination -- a pile of nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project -- was once stored in the open at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. When it rained, the radioactive runoff travelled down the creek, often leaving silt in backyards and basements when the creek flooded.

The Lambert waste pile has long since been removed, and the feds have been slowly cleaning up the creek and yards - a process that's expected to take years more.

Residents are hoping the study will lead to compensation for families.

A second public hearing is scheduled for Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at St. Marks United Methodist Church, 315 Graham Road in Florissant.