Maria Chappelle-Nadal

As a former French settlement established in the early 1800s in St. Louis County, the city of Robertson eventually became known as an historic black community.

A year ago, I had never heard of Robertson until I was sitting at the dinner table of a dear friend who happened to invite a woman who once lived there. We were talking about the attorney general's then-recent report about radioactive waste contamination being found off-premises near the Bridgeton Landfill.

The woman informed me she remembered haul trucks coming into Robertson dumping strange things into a stretch of land once used as a short-term landfill. She said rocks would fall off the haul trucks and kids would play with them as part of a game. The former Robertson resident said whatever was in those trucks ended up getting members of her family and neighbors sick.

For decades, Robertson residents depended on well and fresh water from surrounding streams. By the 1950s, those water sources were "black as a lagoon."

The narrative of former Robertson residents is the same. "We started getting cancer." "Many people died." "Our high school closed as people were getting sick and dying." "I've had breast cancer three times." "Nearly all my family who lived in Robertson died."

As the state senator of this former black community, I have held 57 town hall meetings on radioactive waste contamination in the last 15 months. It is my belief that the same type of radioactive waste contaminates that were dumped into the Bridgeton Landfill (and also contaminated Coldwater Creek) were dumped into the Kent landfill in Robertson.

On Sunday, December 4 at 3 p.m., I am asking former Robertson residents or their descendants to join me at the First M.B. Church, 356 Woodlawn Ave. in Hazelwood – the community once known as Robertson.

The surviving residents of Robertson are getting older; we cannot allow their stories to be forever lost and never explored. It is my strong belief that the people of Robertson were victims of environmental racism. I am in the process of discovering the missing pieces to this story.  I need your help.  

Please join me at the First MB Church of Robertson, 356 Woodlawn Ave. in Hazelwood, 3 p.m. Sunday, December 4.

State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City) represents District 14 in the Missouri Senate.

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(2) comments

Darryl Shannon

I would like to know the name of the company who sent a representative to the church meeting on Dec. 4, 2016. If anyone remembers the name of the company, please let me know! darrylshannon3@gmail,com

Darryl Shannon

As one of the last resident to leave Robertson, I'm very troubled about the facts that I have learned within the recent months. I was one of the children that the Senator heard about at her dinner table, who played with the deadly waste that fail of those trucks. A boy who ventured by those polluted landfills on my childhood journeys to Mcdonald's Restaurant for years, and then as a man crossing the wasteland on his many travels into the neighboring counties. We always knew that the landfill was an evil place. You could just feel the dangerousness of those huge mounds of earth and scorched pits. It angers me beyond words that the country I call home has such an uncaring view of the worth of my people lives. Of my life! That within a year of my return to this great society I find out that my Country has twiced posioned me and my people wtihout the single thought of compassion or accountability. I only hope that in the Senator Maria Chapple-Nadal I will find a warrior who is willing to confront this evil violation of human rights without mercy or apology. And to my people of Robertson, I ask that you fight what has been done to us with every means necessary to be heard.

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