Mary has terminal lung cancer. She never smoked. But what she did do is walk around the local park every morning 24 laps. She believed that she was doing a good thing for her health, getting exercise and fresh air.
Unfortunately, the park that she walked daily was found to be contaminated with radioactive materials. It’s all part of the St. Louis historical work on the Manhattan Project. Mary attended the local meeting this past week about the cleanup of the radioactive wastes. Officials told her that they were not going to close the park that she once walked around daily because the children are back in school. The children, they believe wouldn’t spend much time in the park because of school so they didn’t need to take any action.
Outraged that no one would close the park, the park she believed was the root cause of her now death sentence, Mary decided to do something about it. Mary stood in front of the park with a sign that asked people to ask her why she was there, so she could tell them her story. How her grandson will never really know his Nana because she will be gone before they can do much together.
Today the park that Mary once walked laps around is closed, because Mary wouldn’t leave the entrance with her yellow sign “Park Closed,” until it was officially closed to innocent children and families. Thank you Mary.
The unfortunate truth is that it took a victim of radioactive exposure, a mother and grandmother to take a stand and protect the innocent from known harm. Where are our health protectors? Where are the local, state and more importantly federal health authorities that have jurisdiction and decision making powers when such decisions are needed. Who are they afraid of?
I’m am so tired of the federal government who has investigated and defined the cleanup and testing of this site and so many other sites, turn their heads when it comes to making a decision about protecting the public health. This is not the case when the public is placed at risk from food poisoning or a drug that proved to be more harmful than thought. Why are people exposed to radioactive wastes or toxic wastes the abandoned child? Why is there No Protection or Unequal Protection under government authorities when it comes to working class or low wealth families?
Time and time again we at CHEJ have seen that families are ignored when it comes to the real life threat of exposures to materials that will cause cancer and other diseases. It is well past time that the health professionals who took an oath “to do know harm” to step up to the plate and protect innocent families in the same manner, in the same time frame, as they do families exposed to food related or drug related health impacts.
To hear Mary speak to this issue you can connect to the Youtube video and begin at 1:59, but be sure to have a box of tissues handy to wipe your eyes because the personal testimony is very powerful and sad.