Coalition Report

by Ed Smith, Safe Energy Director
Missouri Coalition for the Environment

Unprecedented Problems Requires New Leadership at West Lake Landfill

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found two new areas of previously unidentified radio-active material located at the smoldering and radioactive West Lake Landfill near Bridgeton, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. The discovery occurred during work to build an “isolation barrier” meant to separate the smoldering fire on one side from the radioactive waste on the other. In 2008, EPA Region 7 decided to leave the radioactive wastes buried at the unlined landfill, in the Missouri River floodplain, vulnerable to seismic activity, fire, floods, and tornados. The 2008 decision is currently under review.

The EPA’s 2008 decision never considered a smoldering fire a threat to the radioactive wastes or public health. The only study on the impacts of a smoldering fire contacting the radioactive wastes was written by the financially responsible parties. Their report found no environmental or health threats to the public. The specialized EPA Office of Research and Development debunked many of the report’s findings.

The uncertainty of risk to human health related to a fire at West Lake make recent actions of the landfill owner, Republic Services, even more dubious. In the last few weeks, Republic Services launched an aggressive statewide campaign supporting the implementation of the flawed 2008 EPA decision to keep the radioactive wastes at the landfill, called “The Coalition to Keep Us Safe.”

Republic Services and the other financially responsible parties need to be removed from the decision making process allowed under EPA Superfund. The Missouri Coalition for the Environment has long advocated that our federally elected officials put the St. Louis Army Corps of Engineers in charge at the West Lake Landfill. The St. Louis Corps has a specialized program dedicated to handling the type of radioactive materials found at the West Lake Landfill. In fact, the St. Louis Corps is in charge of all the radioactive sites in St. Louis City and County, including the site where the radioactive wastes at West Lake originated. Turning this project over to the Corps drastically reduces the influence of the financially responsible parties. Call Senator McCaskill, Senator Blunt, Congressman Clay, and Congress-woman Wagner and ask them to put the St. Louis Army Corps of Engineers in charge at the West Lake Landfill and visit www.moenviron.org for more information.

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