Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), urging him to convene a committee hearing to discuss the government-caused nuclear contamination of the St. Louis area as well as the steps that involved government agencies are taking to remediate the area.
“Last week, new reports provided stunning information about radioactive contamination in the St. Louis area resulting from the Manhattan Project. These reports reveal that contamination in the St. Louis area may prove to be among the most significant government-caused environmental disasters in our nation’s history," wrote Senator Hawley. "What’s worse, it’s now clear that the Federal government knew about the contamination but failed to appropriately inform the public."
He continued, “Residents in the St. Louis area, and frankly all Americans, deserve answers from the federal government about this horrible catastrophe. I urge you to convene a hearing with department officials to discuss the agencies’ roles in this government-caused disaster and the steps the agencies are taking to remediate the area.”
Senator Hawley traveled to the St. Louis region last week and visited Jana Elementary School and Coldwater Creek, areas both affected by decades-old nuclear contamination. During a rally with advocates from the community, Senator Hawley called on the federal government to authorize a fund for St. Louis residents who fell victim to radioactive contamination due to bureaucratic negligence and vowed to do everything in his power to bring the community justice.
Senator Hawley has consistently advocated on behalf of the Coldwater Creek community.
- Last week, Senator Hawley spoke on the Senate floor where he announcednew legislation to create a fund for the victims of radioactive contamination in the St. Louis region.
- Senator Hawley's legislation mandating the clean up of Jana Elementary School in the Hazelwood School District and radioactive waste testing recentlypassed the U.S. Senate. Biden's Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm also vowed to support it.
- In March, Senator Hawley delivered remarks on the Senate floor and attempted to unanimously pass his legislation to clean up Jana Elementary School and test the surrounding buildings in the Hazelwood School District, but it was blocked.
- In early March, Senator Hawley called out the Biden Administration for its lack of action on the Jana Elementary School cleanup.
- In February, Senator Hawley introduced the Justice for Jana Elementary Act following an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing where hepushed the DOE for answers on the radioactive waste found at the school.
- In January, Senator Hawley and Congresswoman Cori Bush sent a letter to USACE Lieutenant General Spellmon calling for additional radioactive testing of Hazelwood School District's properties.
- Last October, Senator Hawley demanded that USACE conduct radioactive testing at Jana Elementary School following reports of contamination, andcalled on President Biden to declare a federal emergency and make aid available for students and families.
Read the full letter here or below.
July 19, 2023
The Honorable Joe Manchin
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
Last week, new reports provided stunning information about radioactive contamination in the St. Louis area resulting from the Manhattan Project. These reports reveal that contamination in the St. Louis area may prove to be among the most significant government-caused environmental disasters in our nation’s history. What’s worse, it’s now clear that the Federal government knew about the contamination but failed to appropriately inform the public. I urge you to convene an oversight hearing as soon as possible to investigate this matter.
In the 1940’s, uranium processing for the Manhattan project took place in downtown St. Louis, resulting in radioactive waste. The federal government then stored this waste above ground near the St. Louis airport for twenty years. The waste was improperly stored, causing it to seep into the ground and the nearby Coldwater Creek. In 1966, the Federal government hired a company, Cotter Corp, to dispose of the waste. Instead of properly disposing of the waste, the company dumped it in the West Lake Landfill, where it remains today.
The Department of Energy knew about contamination in Coldwater Creek as early as 1965, but kept information about the contamination from the public until 1990. According to the report, “Federal agencies knew of the potential human health risks of the creek contamination, but repeatedly wrote them off as ‘slight,’ ‘minimal,’ or ‘low-level.’” Moreover, despite warnings from experts in Missouri, the Environmental Protection Agency failed to conduct adequate testing of the Westlake Landfill and continues to ignore Missouri experts’ warnings of spreading contamination. These are just a few of the disturbing revelations from the 15,000 pages of government documents obtained by the news media.
During my time on this Committee, I have pressed Department of Energy officials to remediate radioactive contamination in the St. Louis area. And, as you know, on October 18, 2022 the Hazelwood School District shut down Jana Elementary School in Florissant, Missouri, after private testing found radiation levels that were 22 times higher than normal levels in the school. I have written to the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, and even the President asking for remediation of the elementary school and the Federal government has yet to take meaningful action.
Residents in the St. Louis area, and frankly all Americans, deserve answers from the federal government about this horrible catastrophe. I urge you to convene a hearing with department officials to discuss the agencies’ roles in this government-caused disaster and the steps the agencies are taking to remediate the area.