Read the Rolling Stone article and find out why "St. Louis is Burning."
Then find out what MCE is doing about it and how you can help.
The Bridgeton Landfill Fire
In December 2010 a subterranean fire was detected in the Bridgeton Sanitary landfill, the same site as the West Lake Landfill, the Superfund site containing radioactive wastes, near the intersection of Interstate 270 and Interstate 70 off St. Charles Rock Road in St. Louis County. The site is owned by Republic Services. The underground fire, or "subsurface smoldering event" has generated attention since last fall because it is causing an obnoxious odor that is impacting communities as far as three miles away. The Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) has recorded rising temperatures due to the underground fire just 1,200 feet away from the radioactive wastes. After our prodding in January because of the odors and health concerns, DNR began air testing at the site and in the community. The agency has been diligent about posting its data and reports on its website at http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/swmp/facilities/bridgetonsanitarylandfill-dnr.htm. Air testing has shown increased levels of benzene, a known carcinogen and hydrogen sulfide, a neurotoxin. Testing for other toxic compounds like furans and dioxins was set to begin the week of April 15th. The DNR has not indicated when the first results will be available.
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Help get radioactive waste OUT of the Missouri River floodplain.
In 1973, radioactive wastes, originated in St. Louis for The Manhattan Project, were illegally dumped in the Missouri River floodplain in the City of Bridgeton at a site called West Lake Landfill. The radioactive wastes will be toxic for billions of years, too long to leave near a flood prone river. The site contains no protective barrier separating the radioactive wastes from groundwater. Groundwater naturally moves towards the Missouri River at West Lake Landfill, which is located 8 river miles upstream from where over 300,000 north St. Louis County residents receive their drinking water. Studies show that radioactive materials are mixing with the groundwater.
Since 1990, the site has been under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Superfund. Not a single ounce of contaminated materials has been removed. While the EPA has been slow to take action on the radioactive wastes in the floodplain, the Army Corps’ of Engineers has removed 1,083,500 cubic yards of radioactive wastes from other contaminated sites in St. Louis City and County. The radioactive wastes being dug up and shipped out of St. Louis to a licensed facility by the Corps’ are the same wastes not being dug up and shipped out of St. Louis by the EPA. Removal of the wastes at West Lake Landfill is long overdue!
Picture of the Missouri River two weeks after the height of the 1993 flood. West Lake Landfill is outlined in purple and pinned in yellow.
Notice the only spot on the Missouri River that didn't fully flood is the site where West Lake Landfill is located. Levees failed upstream of the West Lake Landfill during the 1993 flood, alleviating water pressure downstream at the contaminated landfill. The levees breached in 1993 have been rebuilt stronger, meaning the water that covered Chesterfield years ago will be shooting rapidly towards the West Lake Landfill during the next big flood.
Below is a more detailed picture of where the two radioactively contaminated areas are located at the West Lake Landfill. The radioactive contamination is in the areas outlined in purple.
EPA's History at West Lake Landfill
1990: West Lake Landfill added to EPA National Priorities Superfund List.
2006: Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study completed.
2008: EPA makes Record of Decision (ROD) to leave radioactive wastes in the landfill with a "protective cap" of clay, rocks, and construction rubble along with water monitors around the site.
2010: EPA reconsiders its ROD because of significant public backlash.
2011: Supplemental Feasibility Study is made public.
2012: EPA's National Remedy and Review Board does not have enough information from the EPA's work on West Lake Landfill to make a recommendation how to move forward.
2013: EPA held a public meeting in Jannuary to discuss groundwater samples taken at West Lake Landfill in August of 2012, at the end of one of the hottest and driest summers in recorded history. The groundwater report is flawd and MCE will submit comments to the EPA soon.
This is how you can help.
While the EPA is reconsidering its decision, we need to let our elected officials know that we want the radioactive waste removed and sent to a facility that is licensed to store the toxic materials. Senator Claire McCaskill and Senator Roy Blunt were both outraged at story alleging the United States Army spraying radioactive dust on St. Louis citizens during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Missouri’s senators should be equally outraged that radioactive wastes are threatening the water supply for hundreds of thousands of Missourians and those who live downstream from St. Louis.
We will mail a copy of the petitions to our elected officials to let them know we are watching and we care about safe drinking water.
Environmental Protection Agency
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Community Resolutions Opposing the EPA's 2008 ROD