Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent separate letters to United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Lieutenant General Scott Spellmon, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan demanding answers on nuclear contamination in the St. Louis region.
Senator Hawley's letters followed a disturbing new report of a decades-long effort to downplay and conceal the risks of radioactive contamination in St. Louis, Missouri. The report verified that the federal government and companies responsible for Manhattan Project nuclear testing in the St. Louis area, "were aware of health risks, spills, improperly stored contaminants and other problems but often ignored them."
On Wednesday, Senator Hawley delivered remarks about the report on the Senate floor and announced new legislation to create a fund for the victims of the radioactive contamination. Yesterday, Senator Hawley traveled to the St. Louis region, attended a rally with advocates from the community, and called on the federal government to support his legislation.
To the USACE, Senator Hawley wrote: "The United States Army Corps of Engineers has spent the last year ignoring calls to conduct testing for radioactive contamination at St. Louis schools. Your excuse has been that USACE already knows the location of the contamination. It is now clear how ridiculous those statements are; the government’s efforts to track contamination in St. Louis have been nonchalant, even negligent."
He continued, "The allegations in this report require that you revisit your refusal to conduct further testing of the Hazelwood School District. [...] The government cannot continue to hide behind claims that it has competently tracked this deadly contamination."
Read the full USACE letter here.
To the DOE, Senator Hawley wrote: "These incidents are, as the report says, 'the tip of the iceberg.' There are too many incidents of concealed contamination and negligent testing to reproduce in this letter. And these incidents are not confined to the distant past, the DOE has ignored calls for further testing in the St. Louis area just this year. The allegations in this report demand answers."
Read the full DOE letter here.
To the EPA, Senator Hawley wrote: "The details of the report are appalling. Despite knowing of contamination at the West Lake Landfill as early as 1974, the EPA failed to discover and disclose the full extent of the contamination until May of this year. During that time, the contamination has been spreading, leeching into the surrounding land and clinging to trucks leaving the landfill."
He continued, "The people of St. Louis have a right to know the full extent of radioactive contamination in their community—along with when exactly the West Lake Landfill will be cleaned up."
Read the full EPA letter here.
Senator Hawley has consistently advocated on behalf of the Coldwater Creek community. Most recently, Senator Hawley's legislation mandating the clean up of Jana Elementary School in the Hazelwood School District and radioactive waste testing passed the U.S. Senate. Biden's Energy Secretary 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 he pushed 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, and called on President Biden to declare a federal emergency and make aid available for students and families.