Backyard Talk

Fed Up with EPA, Just Moms STL Take Action

A fire in one landfill in St. Louis is headed for a nearby Superfund site containing nuclear waste. It’s a desperate situation, but a group of courageous leaders has stepped in to save their community and their families. Here’s a few lessons we can draw from their work:
Get Your Neighbors Involved – In a meeting this week, the EPA, the ATSDR, and other officials tried to take sell the community on their solution, but Just Moms STL wasn’t buying. They not only staged a protest outside the meeting before it started, all of the good work that they have done to educate their neighbors was evident from the get-go.
Seek Out the Real Story – At the meeting scientists presented their facts, but the crowd knew that all the data presented directly contradicted earlier studies that Missouri’s Attorney General commissioned. At many points during the evening, it was clear that not only did the crowd know the real story, it was clear they were prepared to take action.
Get Your Story Out – National media came to the meeting: the meeting made CBS’ morning AND evening news hours the next day. The landfill story has been featured weekly in St. Louis due to the activism of Just Moms STL – now it has finally broken through to the national level.
Do a Power Analysis and Take Action – A determined band of volunteers made all of this happen. They got the entire Missouri congressional delegation to write to the EPA and they enlisted the support of their state legislators. They organized rallies, meetings and media events. They recruited more members by going door to door, they organized a coalition and schooled themselves on the issues. The 400 people at this week’s meeting were informed and ready to take action because of Just Moms STL.
Get Expert Help – CHEJ has been working with these brave leaders, many of whom have a family member who has become sick from the landfill. CHEJ has been holding conference calls with Just Moms STL every week. Lois Gibbs has also traveled to St. Louis several times to conduct trainings. CHEJ can help you organize and can also help connect to other organizing sources. Call us!

Backyard Talk

Just Moms STL Continue to Fight for Their Community

By: Katie O’Brien

The community surrounding West Lake Landfill near St. Louis, MO has been fighting for their lives. CHEJ has been working with the grassroots group Just Moms STL for over a year to help train them to organize their neighbors to join them in their fight to regain their health.

An underground fire is burning approximately one thousand feet from 50,000 tons of illegally dumped radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project, which experts estimate can reach the waste in as little three to six months. The fire has been burning for five years, sending smoke and soot into the streets and homes of the surrounding areas. Residents believe this toxic smoke has been causing an upsurge in health problems such as lupus and cancer, and the state health department defined the area to have a much higher than expected childhood cancer rate.  Children cannot play in their yards because the air is so toxic it causes nosebleeds.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed West Lake Landfill as a Superfund site in 1990. Since then, the EPA has continuously mishandled clean up efforts and refuses to move families away from the hazardous site. Just Moms STL has been trying to meet with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for over a year to discuss the health problems that are affecting their children and to establish a plan, but they are constantly denied a meeting.

The St. Louis County Government put together an Emergency Operation Plan in case of a potential nuclear threat; stating its purpose is to reduce or prevent the loss of lives within the county.  The plan states the catastrophic event will occur with little or no warning at all. Residents will be urged to shelter in place until the county can properly set up evacuation points. Just Moms STL continues to fight for their communities and the relocation of their families.

Sign the petition to help Just Moms STL get their families relocated!