Her book recounts the long-term effects of radiological exposure in St. Louis, the city that refined uranium for the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction and the first atomic bomb. As part of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II, the refining created an enormous amount of radioactive waste that increased as more nuclear weapons were produced and stockpiled for the Cold War. Unfortunately, government officials deposited the waste on open land next to the airport. An adjacent creek transported radionuclides downstream to the Missouri River, thereby contaminating St. Louis’s northern suburbs. Amid official assurances of safety, residents were unaware of the risks. The resulting public health crisis continues today with cleanup operations expected to last through the year 2038.
Morice tells the story as one of those affected; her family moved to Florissant in 1958 to a home in the Coldwater Creek watershed. Both of her parents and her older brother died in their late middle age of lymphomas associated with radiological exposure. Across three parts of the book, Morice explores the questions of how the contamination happened and why it was allowed to continue. Books will be available for sale for $14.