- The state of Missouri's lawsuit against Republic involving the smoldering Bridgeton Landfill has been sent back to the St. Louis County Circuit Court by a federal judge, as reported in Waste360. The 2013 lawsuit—whereby the company is charged with eight counts of violations of state environmental law—requests that Republic be ordered to extinguish the fire and control resulting odors, emissions, and hazardous liquids.
- When Missouri stepped in after learning of radioactive material outside of the adjacent West Lake Landfill, Republic argued that the municipality had no control over radioactive material; rather the decision on how to move forward was one for the EPA. A federal judge ruled otherwise, stating Republic was leveraging "hand-picked excerpts from lengthy expert reports [that] amounts to an injection of 'a federal question into an otherwise state-law claim,'" as reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Leachate in soil at the Bridgeton site is confirmed to contain barium sulfate cake, Uranium, and Thorium. The fire that has been smoldering for five years is being monitored for possible reactions with the radioactive waste as the EPA plans installation of an isolation barrier to keep the fire from reaching that waste. The barrier project will be expedited by the latest ruling, according to Republic.
The Bridgeton and West Lake Landfill's legal saga has involved one volley after another with the case moving from one court to another and back again.
And the residents have been in the middle, with anxieties heightening from the time of their first complaints years ago of odors coming from the Bridgeton site, to the legal tug of wars, to wondering why an emergency plan was put in place. Now they await findings of a health department study to determine if some residents have developed respiratory problems resulting from environmental exposure to dangerous toxins originating at the landfill.
Meanwhile, five years after the fire began smoldering, no action plan has started—though the ball may begin to roll. With the most recent court ruling, the delays tied to who has authority in this case have finally lifted, and the barrier may be installed in the not-too-distant future.
"Today’s ruling is based on assurances made by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office that the state will not seek any court order concerning the radiologically impacted material at the West Lake Landfill Superfund site," claims Russ Knocke, a Republic spokesperson, as reported in Waste360. "This effectively removes those issues—once and for all—from the state’s lawsuit against Bridgeton Landfill. It also clears a path for the EPA to … remedy selection, without further litigation involvement by the State of Missouri."