Feeds:
Posts
Comments

While I’m finishing up 56 Houses Left- the book, the biggest question people are asking me lately is not why Lambert expanded, but on my thoughts about West Lake and Coldwater Creek. It is a question I have actively ducked in the last 10 years.

With burning underground fires and radioactive waste leftover from the Manhattan Project in the West Lake Landfill to the west, to Coldwater Creek’s radioactive runoffs in the east, everyone who grew up here are questioning the implications on their health. From the Coldwater Creek- Just the Facts website, the Just Moms Facebook group, and HBO’s Atomic Homefront has led us all to ask ourselves, “Will I be affected?”

While I’ve been working on this book in the few moments between the work I am paid to do, I admit I had abandoned this project for a stretch of time due to my growing personal health fears. When I was in my 20s, I was much more fearless in taking pictures of my hometown in demise. Not only did it make me feel ‘cool,’ it gave me something to live for when everything I had known in my young life was disappearing before my eyes. Now that I thoroughly enjoy my life, I’ve had my own health woes in the last ten years that keep me up at night. Like most who came from here, I too wonder if living in the blip once known as Carrollton is the cause of my myriad of health issues. Infertility. Rare autoimmune disorders. Rare allergies. Many surgeries cutting away bits of my existence. I was told that my appendix was six times the size it should have been when it was removed. The last ten years have not been kind. It seems I took photos of a fading neighborhood to show kids I would later learn I could never have.

I’ve resolved that we will never really know the extent of the radioactive damage. We are right to suspect that leftover waste from the atomic age may be bringing humanity to an earlier grave, but this is true no matter where we live. Leaving our warnings to the future generations while living the best life is all we can do.

Do I think that Lambert expanded into Bridgeton as a way to mitigate the residents from the landfill and creek radioactivity? I’m not an expert, but I have read thousands of articles, essays, political position statements, and the Environmental Impact Statements relative to Lambert’s airport expansion. To me, the answer seems better to fit Hanlon’s Razor, “never attribute malice which can be blamed on incompetence.” And human incompetence may be the reason there is radioactive waste in the area to begin with.

Hard Landing at Lambert

In case you missed it, here it is!

‘Controversial video documentary about Lambert…’ barely had a live week on YouTube before its creators succumbed to politics and pulled it off the air.

I watched all three episodes. Not just to find my interviews and scream, ‘Look! I’m on Youtube!’ I watched it because of Sarah. Conrad. Bill. Rowan. I watched my heroes talk about their old battle to save our homes. The same heroes I grew up listening to and thought they would win against the airport. Their perspectives have not changed in the 30 years of the disaster that is the new runway. It seems that once again, our personal stories got ungraciously dismissed in political tugs of war.

I knew that by doing these interviews what they may may become. The production values had some real money beyond a simple documentary telling a story about an area. Beforehand, I researched Rex, First Rule, and where the political positions the creators of this documentary fell. I can’t say I agree with everything they do. However, when offered a platform to support the former residents of Carrollton and this area of Bridgeton, of course I was willing to give a voice to the historical tragedy that is the loss of our entire community.

In the StL P-D article today, the airport spokesperson said that the documentary did not accurately reflect today’s numbers. I will say that the historical context of the documentary seemed pretty accurate in regards to my own notes and research on the 1989 expansion and the W-1W runway. Since 95% of the documentary focused on the airport’s past events, pulling the episodes off all media does little more than silence those who lived in the area and just want our stories heard. Once again, political forces tell those of us trapped in the middle to shut up and accept our fates at their hands.

The controversial question around why the documentary was pulled didn’t have much to do with the documentary itself. The question is, ‘Should the airport be privatized or remain in the hands of St. Louis City?’ Interesting and much more controversial than anything that was actually in the documentary (timing and political pressure did it in). Despite all that St. Louis City has done to destroy Bridgeton, I still have much love St. Louis City. I have traveled far and wide and lived outside of StL for some time, but St. Louis City’s people and institutions are by far the absolutely best in the world. I love this City like no other, and carry the red, yellow, and blue flag with me. Can St. Louis carry on with the responsibility of managing the airport? While I’m not an expert on general airport management, St. Louis City’s history regarding the airport expansion has been terrible at best. Given the condition the airport and surrounding land is in now, I don’t believe any private entity can or will do any better with it either. I do think private interests and public City managers needs to accept two realities of Lambert- 1. The new runway was a horrible, shortsighted, and costly mistake that still has ramifications today, and 2. In many decades to come, Lambert will still be what it is now- a struggling midsized airport with no future of becoming a world-class airport or air-shipping destination. I don’t think any entity, be it public or private, could make that happen in the future if it already hasn’t. I don’t think there will be any winners in this, whatever happens to Lambert’s ownership. I say this not as any kind of airport expert, but as someone who has passively watched over Lambert’s skies my entire life.

And Sarah, Conrad, Bill, Rowan, all of us will still tell our damn stories.

This site has gone the way of Carrollton itself- neglected, trees growing up through the cracks, and less passerbys driving through.

While Carrollton remains in a perpetual holding pattern, I’m finally making headway on my book project. More importantly, there will be a film documentary released to the public soon! While I can’t give too many details now, what I can say is that it is moving, powerful, and factual. I will add the links soon! I cannot wait until you can view it.

I’ll be cleaning up and updating this site in the coming months in anticipation of completing the book project and the release of the film. While Carrollton remains in limbo, the memorials to our former landscape deserve a bit of a polishing.

All my best to you, the former residents and interested friends,

Desy

Carrollton existed between a radioactive dump and a radioactive creek. These dangers were unknown throughout Carrollton’s existence. Yet, despite knowing how useless the new runway would likely be, multiple agencies were determined to buyout our houses in Bridgeton and build it. Was there another motive to building the runway? Did they know then what we know now?

Many are still looking for answers from Lambert and the FAA on why the runway was built even after TWA collapsed and the airline ecomonic bubble appeared to be bursting in 2002. Maybe  it is a coincidence that 2,000 homes in very close proximity to a radioactive landfill was destroyed and what was left of the area is (mostly) gated off.

A blessing in disguise, or maybe officials in St. Louis and Jefferson City knew something we didn’t know. If they did damage control by  removing Bridgeton’s largest community, they left behind many other small neighborhoods that are, surprisingly, still thriving.

Just a mere thought regarding the coincidence of it all.

As if poisoned waters in North County via the contaminated Coldwater Creek wasn’t already a serious environmental problem, there is a greater urgency in protecting people from the potential of radioactive fallout from fires burning deep inside the West Lake Landfill. In both cases, the waste came from the careless dumping of toxic byproducts after developing weapons of mass destruction used in the WWII.

For decades, Carrollton silently rested in the middle of environmental disasters. Two disasters that were only publicly exposed in recent years. Disasters that have quietly sickened an unknown percentage of the population of North County who likely considered themselves just plain unlucky. Those of us who grew up in North County now begin to wonder when, not if, we will be affected. Today, we wonder not if, but when, the subterranean fires will burn their way into the radioactive waste field.

From the St. Louis County Emergency Operations Plan (West Lake Landfill Evacuation Plan): “Muncipalities directly affected are Bridgeton, Hazelwood, Maryland Heights, the Village of Champ, and the City of St. Charles.”

Despite being developed a year ago, releasing it to the public is very telling of the potential for this plan to be a necessity. Today’s release of the plan is a warning that we need to be on closer guard. The fact that his was only the 8th headline down on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website means it will get overlooked by many who will need to read it. 

http://www.coldwatercreekfacts.com/

In January, a motorist traveling at a high rate of speed killed a bicyclist in Carrollton. Why was someone doing 68 miles per hour in Carrollton? Because the airport cannot control the streets? Because this driver likely thought nobody would be in his way?

Tragic story of a cyclist who likely wanted to be somewhere free of traffic and a driver who felt like he could speed at will in an abandoned area.

Full article in the link below:

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/hazelwood-driver-was-speeding-twice-limit-when-he-struck-and/article_8d1d8899-6f4b-5294-9209-034546df0d52.html