ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – An environmental group wants work to stop on a development adjacent to the NGA West project to settle old questions about possible Cold War radiation at the site.
It’s the old Pruitt-Igoe public housing site, knocked down and overgrown with wild trees for 40 years, during which time reports surfaced that the U.S. government had sprayed cadmium sulfide laced with radioactive material from the rooftops of the housing complex, as part of a secret Cold War-era biological warfare experiment.
Ed Smith with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment wants testing to determine if the dust in the wind is contaminated.
“Radioactivity is invisible and odorless, so unless there’s testing, people will not know that it’s there,” Smith said.
Smith has sent a letter to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s administration asking that the work be halted pending soil samples.
“There’s no need for further testing,” said Otis Williams, the Executive Director of the St. Louis Development Corporation.
Williams tells KMOX the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA have already done testing on the Pruitt-Igoe site.
“We had to satisfy the NGA that there was no issue,” Williams said.
Williams was away from his office on the Friday holiday and unable to say whether the testing included soil samples for possible radiation.
He plans to release a report on the Pruitt-Igoe site Monday.
Earlier Friday, Ed Smith sent a letter expressing his concerns to city’s Director of Economic Development, Linda Martinez:
“Hello Ms. Martinez,
“It was brought to my attention today by Kevin Killeen from KMOX that earth moving activity has started at Pruitt-Igoe. A local professor at St. Louis Community College, Lisa Martino-Taylor, wrote her thesis and now a book alleging the government sprayed radioactive dust on people who lived at Pruitt-Igoe during the Cold War.
“I suggest the City of St. Louis request suspension of work at the site so a Health Hazard Evaluation can be completed. OSHA & NIOSH provide HHE’s free of charge and it includes testing for radiation. Given the allegations and the proximity of Pruitt-Igoe to Mallinkrodt, plus the fact radiation is invisible and odorless, the only way to ensure worker safety is to test for radiation. It’s my understanding the City of St. Louis has the authority to request a HHE at any time.
“The Pattonville Fire Protection District requested a HHE following a surface fire within a few hundred feet of surface level radioactive contamination at the West Lake Landfill. The surface fire led the EPA to cover the surface level radioactive material until the agency reaches a final decision.
“I look forward to hearing back from you.