ST. LOUIS (AP) — Ben Phillips' childhood memories include basketball games with friends, and neighbors gathering in the summer shade at their St. Louis housing complex. He also remembers watching men in hazmat suits scurry on the roofs of high-rise buildings as a dense material poured into the air.
“I remember the mist,” Phillips, now 73, said. “I remember what we thought was smoke rising out of the chimneys. Then there were machines on top of the buildings that were spewing this mist.”
As Congress considers payments to victims of Cold War-era nuclear contamination in the St. Louis region, people who were targeted for secret government testing from that same time period believe they're due compensation, too.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Army used blowers on top of buildings and in the backs of station wagons to spray a potential carcinogen into the air surrounding a St. Louis housing project where most residents were Black. The government contends the zinc cadmium sulfide sprayed to simulate what would happen in a biological weapons attack was harmless.
Phillips and Chester Deanes disagree. The men who grew up at the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex are now leading the charge seeking compensation and further health studies that could determine whether the secretive testing contributed to various illnesses or premature deaths that some Pruitt-Igoe residents later suffered.
“We were experimented on,”…