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Survey Blames High Cancer Rate on Coldwater Creek

Kevin Killeen
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Former north county residents Jenell Wright and Diane Schanzenbach blame area health problems on nuclear waste near creek.

Former north county residents Jenell Wright and Diane Schanzenbach blame area health problems on nuclear waste near creek.

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A Facebook survey of some three thousand people from the Coldwater Creek area of north county shows clusters of cancer and other illnesses some blame on nuclear waste once stored there.

The “Coldwater Creek — Just the Facts Please” Facebook page survey was conducted over the past year with results released today.

“Where I lived there were four brain cancers in a six-house radius and that just doesn’t seem right,” said Jennell Wright, a co-organizer of the survey.

The survey also found many residents reporting auto immune disorders.

“There are a whole host of auto immune disorders reported to us that we thought very unusual,” Wright said, “We have a really high incidence of MS, lots of people with multiple sclerosis and ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in this area.”

Wright, who formerly worked as a CPA for Ernst and Young, attended McCluer North High School where she was a drum major with Diane Schanzenbach.  Schanzenbach, who holds a PhD in economics from Princeton University, now works as a researcher at Northwestern University in the field of economics and health. Northwestern University was not involved in the survey.

“I counted 38 cases of appendix cancer, which is one of the rarest cancers known,” Schanzenbach said, “Fewer than a thousand people in the whole United States are diagnosed with appendix cancer each year, and in this little area we’ve uncovered 38 cases.”

Wright is hoping the survey will help the St. Louis medical community to properly diagnose patients from the north county area.

“We’ve had friends go to the doctor with aches and pains, because we’re all around forty , and they say, ‘Oh, it’s because you’re busy, you have kids; you’re doing all these things,'” Wright said, “And it ends up being stage four cancer by the time it’s caught.”

Residents blame nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project that was once stored in open piles on a site off Latty Avenue. When Coldwater creek flooded, they say, it swamped the nuclear waste and swept it through the neighborhoods into backyards, play areas and basements.

The Latty Avenue nuke pile was removed in 2008, but residents fear residue form the site remains in the area.

You can find out more about the survey from the group’s Facebook page.

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