Thursday, February 22, 2018

St. Louis Gave Birth to the Atomic Age

It's been a crazy start to the year, and we're on the verge of leaving February behind. Isn't that just nuts? The day job has been intense, and I've been on the road a lot in the last month. It's easy to neglect the blog when real life responsibilities take over my brain, but it's good to be back here.

So much has happened in the month I was gone, and to avoid being controversial and getting into any kind of debate (which seems to be popular on social media right now), I'll just focus on how I finished writing Gateway Mothman.

This book was fun to write, and I started writing it way back in 2014. Two years of writer's block might have killed this story, but I brought it back to life last fall. Even though Gateway Mothman focuses on one of my favorite urban legends/cryptozoid, the story's setting is important to me personally.

My story centers around a suburb in St. Louis, Bridgetowne. Bridgetowne is based on the real life town of Bridgeton. During the Manhattan Project, over 50,000 of tons of radioactive waste was dumped all around Lambert Airport near Bridgeton.

Mallinckrodt is based in town, and these days, it's known for it's lifesaving pharmaceuticals. Back in the 1860s, though, Mallinckrodt was known for its work in creating contrasting dyes for X-rays. This work lead them to become the very first company to have created a method of purifying uranium.

WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S APPROVAL, all that nuclear waste was dumped in Coldwater Creek just north of Bridgeton, Weldon Springs just across the Missouri River, and a bunch of it was piled in Bridgeton, which later became the West Lake Landfill - now owned and managed by Republic Services.

Over the years, residents surrounding Coldwater Creek started developing rare cancers. People were shocked to learn of this as they attended their class reunions. It got to the point where residents started tracking this, and the hotspots for all of these cancers were all around the creek kids used to play in. To this day, nothing has been done about it, despite soil samples showing high radioactivity in people's yards and high readings of contamination being taken INSIDE homes.

West Lake Landfill made national news when a smoldering underground "fire" was discovered, and over the last few years, it has crept closer and closer to the mountain of radioactive waste. There is NO barrier stopping the fire from reaching this stuff, and the EPA has continually done pretty much nothing but stonewall residents' concern. My parents still live in Bridgeton, and when we cross the Missouri River to visit them, the stench hits you pretty hard. Property values continue to sink in the area, and my high school alma mater has dad to draft up emergency procedures just in case the fire should reach the radioactive waste and poison the air.

HBO recently premiered a documentary focused on both Coldwater Creek and West Lake. You can watch it for FREE right HERE: