Coalition Report: Smoldering and Radioactive West Lake Landfill Update

By Ed Smith,
Policy Director
Missouri Coalition for the Environment

A subsurface fire continues to smolder approximately 1,000 feet from known areas of radioactive wastes at the West Lake Landfill in St. Louis County. The St. Louis County Department of Health (DOH) is moving forward with a health survey for a randomly selected group of people who live within a two-mile radius of the landfill focusing on respiratory issues. The DOH will be the first government agency to directly evaluate the health of people living close to the landfill. Contact the DOH at Westlake-Bridgeton.doh@stlouis.com with any questions.

Attorney General Koster continues to pursue a three-year-old lawsuit against the landfill owner, Republic Services, related to the smoldering fire. Republic Services requested a change of venue to federal court, which has caused a delay of several months. The Attorney General recently released reports related to the lawsuit indicating that radioactivity was found near the West Lake Landfill at offsite locations.

In February, Attorney General Koster announced his support for transferring the jurisdiction of the radioactive wastes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Army Corps of Engineers’ specialized nuclear waste cleanup program called the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP). The Corps is currently in St. Louis cleaning up nuclear wastes from the Manhattan Project; the same type of waste that was dumped at West Lake.

The news from Attorney General Koster came one week after Senators Blunt and McCaskill were able to successfully pass a bill they sponsored through the Senate which would put the Corps in charge of the cleanup of radioactive wastes. Congressman Clay, Congresswoman Wagner, and Congressman Luetkemeyer are sponsoring identical legislation in the House of Representatives, and are currently working to get the bill to the President’s desk.

Representatives from the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Just Moms STL, Franciscan Sisters of Mary, Central Reform Congregation, and Center for Health, Environment, and Justice traveled to Washington D.C. to support the efforts of our federally elected officials including Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill.

Follow the latest updates on the smoldering and radioactive West Lake Landfill at the Missouri Coalition for the Environment website www.moenvironment.org.