St. Louis Community College-Meramec sociology professor Lisa Martino-Taylor told The Associated Press that her research showed that the Army may have sprayed radioactive particles with zinc cadmium sulfide while claiming that it was testing a smoke screen that could prevent Russians from observing St. Louis from the air.
Those tests were concentrated in predominately-black areas of the city, which Army documents called “a densely populated slum district.”
In 1994, the Army confirmed to Congress that St. Louis was chosen because it resembled Russian cities that the U.S. might have to attack with biological weapons.
“The study was secretive for a reason,” Martino-Taylor explained to KDSK last month. “They didn’t have volunteers stepping up and saying yeah, I’ll breathe zinc cadmium sulfide with radioactive particles.”
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Documents showed that the Army used airplanes to drop the chemicals in Corpus Christi, but sprayers were mounted on station wagons and buildings in St. Louis.
“It was pretty shocking. The level of duplicity and secrecy. Clearly they went to great lengths to deceive people,” Martino-Taylor observed. “This was a violation of all medical ethics, all international codes, and the military’s own policy at that time.”
“There is a lot of evidence that shows people in St. Louis and the city, in particular minority communities, were subjected to military testing that was connected to a larger radiological weapons testing project.”
Last month, both Missouri Sens. Claire McCaskill (D) and Roy Blunt (R) demanded that Army Secretary John McHugh come clean about the testing. For its part, the Army refused to comment on the matter until it had responded to the senators, the AP reported.
Doris Spates was a baby when her father died inexplicably in 1955. She has watched four siblings die of cancer, and she survived cervical cancer.
After learning that the Army conducted secret chemical testing in her impoverished St. Louis neighborhood at the height of the Cold War, she wonders if her own government is to blame.
In the mid-1950s, and again a decade later, the Army used motorized blowers atop a low-income housing high-rise, at schools and from the backs of station wagons to send a potentially dangerous compound into the already-hazy air in predominantly black areas of St. Louis.