Over decades, feds at multiple departments and agencies were exposed to toxic chemicals at a complex of federal buildings in St. Louis. Now, after whistleblower accounts, scientific reports and help from a major federal employee union, those affected are seeing a ray of hope for receiving help with healthcare.
Thousands—indeed tens of thousands—of feds over several decades were exposed to dangerous chemicals that contaminated a major federal worksite in the Midwest.
The name of the facility? The Goodfellow federal complex in St. Louis, Mo. Once a World War II-era ammunition factory, the facility has long since been converted to other uses for federal agencies. Now, as the toll of illnesses and deaths is slowly being taken into account at the highest levels of government, a major employee union is joining with feds in continuing to call for redress.
Health hazard findings and news coverage have been having impact, in the wake of decades of employee complaints, and more recently whistleblower claims aided by at least one union (the American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE) and scientific reports, clarifying the issues.
Because of the various manufacturing processes, the site remained contaminated throughout its use with “hazardous substances including lead, cadmium, arsenic, asbestos, and other potentially cancer-causing chemicals,” according to AFGE, which remains committed to the case, and is seeking long-term healthcare and related help for those affected and their families.
“While it appears the facility is closing, thousands worked there over at least 20 plus years,” AFGE Assistant General Counsel Ward Morrow said in a release. “We don’t have accurate numbers, but this appears to have been a problem since 1988 or longer.”
"We suspect the number of employees impacted may be as high as 30,000," Morrow said. "Many employees may be retired or passed not knowing the full dangers of their exposure.”
Multiple agencies and departments have made use of the facility over the decades—including Defense (DOD), Agriculture (USDA), Social Security (SSA) and others.
This article has been updated.
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