Atomic Fallout: Records reveal the federal government downplayed, ignored health risks

"Atomic Fallout" is an ongoing collaboration between The Missouri Independent, MuckRock and The Associated Press involving thousands of pages of previously-unreleased government records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. They show radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project was known to pose a threat to people living in North St. Louis County as early as 1949. But federal officials repeatedly wrote off potential health risks off as "slight," "minimal" or "low-level."

Over six months, more than two dozen journalists and researchers pored over 6,700 pages of federal government documents, many of which had been either newly-declassified or never before reviewed.

We consulted experts to analyze the reports anew, to see if the environmental and radioactivity testing done decades ago could be seen and understood in a different, modern light.

In addition to the full report, you can explore the the history of the St. Louis nuclear waste site in an interactive map and read some of the key findings of our joint report. If you’re a journalist interested in applying our lessons to your own reporting project, or just want to know more about the process, there’s also a guide to how our ‘Atomic Fallout’ reporting came together.

19 Articles

Logos of Sigma Awards, First Amendment Coalition and National Institute for Health Care Management

MuckRock and partners recognized for its journalism

MuckRock has won the First Amendment Coalition’s Free Speech and Open Government Award for its data journalism collaborations and was named a finalist for the National Institute for Health Care Management Awards and Sigma Awards.

Read More

Florissant homes built on Coldwater Creek may sit on radioactive contamination

Florissant homes built on Coldwater Creek may sit on radioactive contamination

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is drilling through basement floors in the Cades Cove subdivision of Florissant to determine whether there is radioactive contamination under residents’ homes.

Read More

Radiation logo

Missouri House bill would allow further testing for St. Louis radioactive waste

‘There could potentially be some areas surrounding those known areas where there could still be contamination that is yet to be identified,’ says the bill’s sponsor.

Read More

View all...