Warning: Don’t Go In This Creek

Outtake from The First Secret City.

Mike Petersen, former chief of Public Affairs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District speaks about progress on the clean up of Coldwater Creek in North St. Louis County, and a citizen at the Jan. 2015 meeting of the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program asks why there are no warning signs posted near the creek.

Almost a year later, no radiation signs have been posted along the creek, either at St. Cin park in Hazelwood, Missouri or at St. Ferdinand Park in Florrisant, Missouri. St. Cin Park  was closed down after a protest in August but the signs simply say “Park closed” without the warning radiation symbol that would indicate why the park is closed. At St. Ferdinand Park there is orange netting surrounding the clean up area and no signs indicating why it is there or that people, especially children, should avoid the creek. Outside of the orange netting, which could be easily jumped over or pushed down, the creek is open and free for people to access.

This failure and reluctance to inform the public about the very real risks in these public spaces goes to the heart of the reason people still don’t know about St. Louis’ role in the Atomic Age. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is doing the right thing by cleaning up the waste. But when there are no signs posted or the parks remain open during the clean-up, it suggests that the  silence and denial surrounding St. Louis’ secretive radioactive history  continues. A person  walking through that park may not understand the significance of flimsy orange netting. So the question remains: Why aren’t there warning signs along the creek?

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