The St. Louis Suburbs Bear the Cost of America’s Nuclear Past

Longreads

At the request of a high school friend, author Lacy M. Johnson began investigating an area north of St. Louis, where toxic waste from the Manhattan Project was illegally dumped in 1974. The resulting piece for Guernica finds Johnson diving into the human costs of America’s decision to end the war on Japan and the Axis powers with expedient nuclear force.

The years of experimentation leading up to the dropping of the atomic bomb, and the years dealing with the nuclear fallout also have also taken a lasting toll on the home front. Areas in St. Louis county near the Westlake Landfill Superfund site have higher incidence of lupus, rare cancers, neuropathy, and congenital defects than the general population. Although the EPA has maintained that the site is minimally hazardous, some residents have formed advocacy groups to raise awareness and demand immediate removal of the waste.

When Karen and her husband…

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