Coldwater Creek suspected cancers are relentless, say members of the surrounding community


What if a fire burned only 600 ft. away from toxic waste? What if this was your community?

There is a fire burning underground in the West Lake landfill very close to the toxic waste of Coldwater Creek. What happens if they come into contact?

St. Louis has an emergency evacuation plan for St. Louis and St. Charles Counties, according to Karen Nickel. She is the co-founder of the group Westlake Moms, which has been working on bringing to light the effects of Coldwater Creek and cleaning it up.

Nickel has a copy of St. Louis County’s evacuation plan. The purpose of the plan is to “save lives in the event of a catastrophic event at the West Lake Landfill.”

The plan also notes that in the situation at hand, there is “potential for radioactive fallout to be released in the smoke plume and spread throughout the region.”

Yet according to Nickel, residents of St. Louis are already encountering radioactive materials left by Coldwater Creek.

“When the creek would come out of its banks, which it often did, when it receded it was leaving thorium, uranium and radium all over our streets and in our neighborhood,” Nickel said.

Nickel, Kellie Lasater and Marcia Rolfsmeyer all had stories about people they knew playing in the creek and ending up with health issues later in their lives.

A resident of St. Louis County, Rolfsmeyer said she, her brother and his friends are unable to have kids.

“Do you think it has anything to do with the creek?” Rolfsmeyer asked her brother and his friends. They suspect that their inability to have kids is due to the creek’s toxic waste.

Rolfsmeyer also said a woman she grew up with died at 26 years old. After her death, she said there was an autopsy done.

“[Her] heart and her lungs were gone. Like someone had poured acid on them,”Rolfsmeyer said.

Lasater said she did not play in the creek but was diagnosed with a rare type of thyroid cancer in 2012. She explained that from 2012 to March 2021, she has had 12 surgeries.

The evacuation plan details how a possible evacuation will be coordinated, such as getting people shelter in another city if they have nowhere to go. It also notes that food and transportation will be provided as needed.

The evacuation plan states that every form of alert will go out in the event anything happens: loud police vehicle speakers, text alerts, highway signs, National Weather service, etc. Although all of this is in place, it also states that no one will be forced from their home.

Kellie Lasater points to the area of her throat where she developed thyroid cancer in 2012. Photo by McKaylah Bell.

However, all three women said that a good amount of people living in both of these areas are unaware of the severity of the situation.

“I also think that there are a good amount of people that live in and around the creek that are absolutely unaware of the fact that the creek is toxic,” Lasater said.

The concern is, are there resources for people who do not have the financial or physical capabilities to be able to evacuate or to address the health issues allegedly caused by the creek?


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McKaylah Bell
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