- The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will not be selecting a cleanup plan for radioactive contamination at the West Lake Landfill Superfund site before an end-of-year deadline, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- This renewed calls from members of Congress to put the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in charge of the cleanup instead. That would require legislation which is not expected to pass during this current session.
- The EPA also confirmed that it will test nearby residences for radioactive contamination "to address potential environmental health concerns in the area." Last week, a local couple sued landfill owner Republic Services for alleged contamination in their home.
EPA says it has no reason to believe that radioactive material has left the site, but residents remain skeptical. The situation has become so contentious that one meeting was canceled earlier this year due to online threats. The site's proximity to Republic's Bridgeton Landfill, which has an underground thermal reaction that continues to burn, has elevated concerns. The company maintains that neither site poses imminent hazards to local residents.
Republic has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on monitoring equipment, litigation, groundwater testing and more. While the company has worked to tout its effect on the larger Missouri economy, these two sites have overshadowed much of it and a delayed cleanup plan selection could prolong that.
On a federal level, the EPA has been emphasizing the economic and community benefits of Superfund cleanups, but any such action at West Lake still seems far off. It's possible that new leadership at the EPA could affect the plan as well, though at this point the next administration's plans for the agency remain opaque.