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Oakville residents want county to test water, soil near Weber's south quarry


April 27, 2005 - Oakville residents living near Fred Weber Inc.'s south quarry say they have noticed peculiar illnesses and want the county to test the water and soil around the area for environmental hazards.

County Executive Charlie Dooley recently signed legislation appropriating $80,000 to environmentally test the air at the Baum-gartner industrial site in Oakville this summer, but the Isaiah Cluster of Metropolitan Congregations United, or MCU, wants further testing.

"One year ago, I broke my collarbone getting out of a chair," said Oakville resident Ron Paul, speaking at MCU's annual Community Meeting last week.

"Doctors found evidence of bone cancer and it was chased back to my lungs, a cancer called adenocarcinoma," he said. "I have been told that there is no cure for this cancer that I have because (it has spread) to other organs of my body."

Paul lives in Cambridge Point subdivision, nearly 200 feet from Weber's asphalt piles, he said.

"I found that adenocarcinoma is the most prevalent type of cancer among non-smokers — lung cancer that is — and among the environmental cause of adenocarcinoma are prolonged exposure to silic dust, or particle matter, and asphalt fumes.

"I don't no for sure that the dust caused the problem I have," Paul said. "I do know for absolute certain this isn't helping.

"Most of the neighboring kids, the children in my subdivision, have asthma," he added. "The people in our neighborhood should not have to worry about diseases because of these pollutants."

Weber officials did not return telephone messages from the Call before press time.

Another resident near the quarry questioned why her husband abruptly died of kidney cancer in his late 40s. Polly Fick of the New England subdivision wants a study done to know if the industrial area contributed to her husband Tom's death.

"At the time Tom was diagnosed, he was a healthy 47-year-old man with no history of kidney cancer in his family," Fick said. "I've always had a suspicious feeling that his cancer was attributed to his line of work — he was an auto body repairman — but also the toxins he breathed in south county.

"I feel that the contaminants from the asphalt plant in the water and the air we breathe everyday is related to his death," she said. "You do not take a healthy man and break him into pieces over night."

MCU has the meeting each year to direct-ly ask politicians their stances on issues and whether they'll support the organization's goals. Both county and state lawmakers as well as some business owners attend the event.

"People were and are worried about the effects of pollution, especially as they re-late to local asphalt production," said MCU's Maria Altrudo of Queen of All Saints Cath-olic Church. "The air testing will be done, but what about the water and soil. An asphalt plant is a major source of hazardous air pollutants and particulate matter. Scientific studies have shown that asphalt plants contaminate the soil, and pollutants then may enter the water tables. St. Louis County and our state legislature need to have the Mis-souri Department of Natural Resources test test the soil and water and make sure re-sults of these tests are reported to the residents of Oakville."

Asked for their support in getting the DNR to test the site, both County Exec-utive Charlie Dooley and state Sen. Harry Kennedy, D-St. Louis, said they would contact the agency and lobby for a study.

"We feel very strongly about ensuring that our citizens in south county are protected in health," the county executive responded. "We will do everything in our power to make sure those studies are completed."

Kennedy said, "I will work with you hand in hand to make sure that DNR does the proper testing and we get these results back to everyone, so everyone is educated about the issue and then we take the appropriate steps."

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