HAZELWOOD, Mo. — Water samples from an eastern Missouri creek that turned white over the weekend are still being tested and it’s too early to conclude what caused the problem, the state Department of Resources said Monday.
Coldwater Creek, which runs through the Hazelwood area of St. Louis, has been a source of concern for area residents for years after radioactive contamination was confirmed in several yards that back up to the waterway.
The milky white water raised new worries on Sunday morning, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers insisted Monday that whatever is in the water has nothing to do with the agency’s remediation efforts to remove soil contaminated by remnants of the nation’s early nuclear weapons program.
“Our sampling and remediation process doesn’t affect the creek in any way,” Corps spokeswoman Amanda Kruse said. “If it did, the creek would have been white for years.”
The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District investigated and couldn’t find anything in its wastewater sewers that would have caused the discoloration, district spokesman Lance Lecomb said.
It looks like some kind of paint or dye was dumped into a storm drain or the creek itself, he said.
DNR spokesman Tom Bastian said water samples had been turned over to a lab but the results had not come back.
Nuclear processing waste that was stored at sites near Lambert-St. Louis International Airport during the early decades of the Cold War leached into Coldwater Creek, which empties into the Missouri River.
Separate from the corps’ investigation, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is studying a potential link between the creek’s contamination and high numbers of cancer diagnoses in the area.
Many who grew up along Coldwater Creek believe the high numbers are a result of childhood exposure.