Coalition Report

by Kathleen Logan Smith
Executive Director; Missouri Coalition For The Environment

St. Louis Needs You

If you were in charge of choosing where to put radioactive waste to minimize the risks of exposure to future generations, you’d be smart to avoid populated areas, major rivers that serve as drinking water sources like the Missouri River, risky floodplains, and seismic zones – that’s just common sense.

Thankfully, common sense may have a chance at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is reevaluating its plan from 2008 to leave tens of thousands of cubic yards of radioactive waste in an unlined pit, illegally dumped there in 1973, in Earth City in northwest St. Louis County in the Missouri River floodplain. The site is typically rich with groundwater, in porous soils, 8 river miles upstream from where all of north St. Louis County draws its drinking water. Will the agency revise its plan? For St. Louis’ sake, they’d better.

I know your eyes are rolling, but I can’t make this stuff up.
The EPA’s decision to leave the radioactive waste in the floodplain in 2008 shouldn’t even be an option. It was illegal to dump radioactive waste in the Missouri River floodplain in 1973 and it should be illegal to choose to leave it there in 2012. This is where you come in. In August, the EPA ordered radiation testing of groundwater at the site. The results will be made available during a public meeting sometime this year. You need to show up to find out what they have to say to the downstream residents who are dependent on the Missouri River for water supplies or crop irrigation.

We need you to join us in questioning the reliability of groundwater samples collected during the summer of the worst drought in decades. We need you to join us in calling for removal of the radioactive wastes to an area more suitable for permanent storage. We need you to help us press for a better site characterization that identifies what’s hot and where at the site. We need you to be an advocate for your drinking water and your part of our planet.

Since 1973, the government has not figured out a plan for the radioactive waste mess at this site which is known as the West Lake landfill. We have a few ideas while they ponder: MCE would like semi-annual water sampling at the site; groundwater sampling off-site to monitor whether the radioactive wastes have migrated off-site; continual engagement of the community on EPA’s efforts; and a proper characterization of the site and remedies so decision makers have all the information they need to pursue a remedy. Again, this is where you come in. We need you at these public meetings to let the EPA know you are holding them accountable.

Sign up for e-alerts from MCE at www.moenviron.org (Get Involved/E-alerts) or ‘like’ us on Facebook and when we know, we will inform you when the EPA’s public meeting will be held to reveal the results of its groundwater sampling and we will send you useful updates on St. Louis’ own chapter in the book of the Atomic Age.

As for your health and the planet’s, minimize your intake of pesticides, chemicals and hormones and nourish yourself with fresh unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables to give your body fuel to stay healthy. We need you to help with this cause and we need you to be strong for it.

For more information visit the Missouri Coalition for the Environment online at www.moenviron.org or call 314-727-0600.