The Industrial and Nuclear Past of St. Louis Superfund

Only a few miles east of the West Lake Landfill lies another Superfund site created as a result of radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project as well as contaminants left behind by industrial companies in the area. The St. Louis Airport/Hazelwood Interim Storage/Futura Coatings Co. Superfund Site, located in Hazelwood, Missouri, is a prime example of the severe and incredibly dangerous contamination required to become a Superfund site.

This area encompasses land that was historically used for various industrial activities, including chemical storage, waste disposal, and manufacturing. The site’s contamination originated from multiple sources, including the St. Louis Airport storage facility and the Futura Coatings Company, which operated a paint manufacturing facility in the area.

In addition to the industrial activity at this site, the area was used to process nuclear materials including radium and uranium during the Manhattan Project. Today, much of the radioactive waste left behind is still present and has led to two separate Superfund sites in the area.

Chemicals Found at the Site

This Superfund site has been found to be contaminated with various hazardous substances, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals. Exposure to these contaminants can have severe health effects on individuals living or working in the area.

PCB exposure has been linked to developmental and neurological disorders, hormonal imbalances, immune system dysfunction, and an increased risk of certain cancers. VOCs like benzene and trichloroethylene are known carcinogens and can cause respiratory issues, kidney damage, and adverse effects on the central nervous system. Prolonged exposure to heavy metals can lead to neurological damage, organ failure, developmental disorders, and an increased risk of cancer.

Along with the chemicals found in the area from industrial processes, radioactive remnants of the Manhattan Project have been detected in the soil surrounding this area. This includes traces of Uranium and Radium, which has led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take over the cleanup. It’s no secret that these materials are commonly linked to various types of radiation and, according to the EPA, risks at the site include, “Exposure to contaminated soils and sediment through ingestion and inhalation of particulates, inhalation of radon, and exposure to gamma radiation.”

Remediation Efforts

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated the St. Louis Airport/Hazelwood Interim Storage/Futura Coatings Co. Superfund Site as a priority for remediation under the Superfund program. The EPA, in collaboration with state and local authorities, has been conducting investigations, implementing cleanup measures, and monitoring the site to mitigate the contamination and protect public health. Remediation efforts may involve the removal and disposal of contaminated soil, groundwater treatment, and the implementation of engineering controls to prevent further spread of contaminants.

While these agencies focus on cleanup, local communities and environmental advocacy groups play a crucial role in raising awareness and ensuring the protection of residents’ rights and well-being. Far too many people are living in close proximity to these sites unaware of the dangers. Through community advocacy, we hope that the victims who have been affected by these contaminants are made known of the wrong that has been done to them, and we at OnderLaw want them to know what can be done.

Legal Implications

The contamination at the St. Louis Airport/Hazelwood Interim Storage/Futura Coatings Co. Superfund Site has most certainly played a role in the health of those living around it. Through the concerns of affected communities, it has been made possible to file lawsuits against the responsible parties. This may include the companies that operated in the area and governmental entities responsible for oversight and regulatory compliance. Potential legal claims could include personal injury, property damage, and environmental harm caused by the contamination. The lawsuits aim to hold accountable those responsible for the pollution and seek justice for affected individuals and communities.

The St. Louis Airport/Hazelwood Interim Storage/Futura Coatings Co. Superfund Site represents a significant environmental challenge due to historical contamination with hazardous substances. The presence of PCBs, VOCs, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals poses severe health risks to individuals in the area. Efforts by the EPA and other stakeholders aim to address the contamination and mitigate its impacts. Through environmental lawsuits, affected communities seek accountability and compensation for the harm caused. Continued community involvement, advocacy, and thorough cleanup efforts are crucial to ensure the protection of public health and the restoration of the affected environment.

If you feel your community may have been harmed by the chemicals found at this site, contact us today.