- Area officials are calling on the Obama administration to act quickly to clean up the radioactively contaminated West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, MO, for fear it will catch fire from a smoldering underground fire at the adjacent Bridgeton Landfill. The state's congressional delegation made a similar plea last month.
- A White House spokesman told The Hill it is aware of the pleas, but would not say if anything will happen.
- Area officials question whether radioactive contamination at West Lake came from the Department of Energy or its predecessors, and want the Department of Energy to re-evaluate whether it should be added to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cleanup program. West Lake and parts of the Bridgeton Landfill were contaminated in the 1970s when a local contractor for uranium producer Cotter Corp. illegally dumped contaminated waste. The site was never included in the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program, originally a DOE program that is now operated by the corps. It was put under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency jurisdiction in 1990, but residents complain the agency can't get the job done. The EPA promised a cleanup proposal by the end of 2016.
Area residents and officials are getting frustrated and fearful.
Earlier this month, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ordered Republic Services to add more safeguards and develop a plan to prevent the spread of the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill, which has been burning for more than four years past existing defenses.
The EPA said the situation is not as urgent as local officials believe, and residents are not immediate risk from the smoldering fire.
"We absolutely understand their frustrations. We know that this seems like it is taking a long time," said Chris Whitley, spokesman for the EPA’s region 7, which includes Missouri. "But it boils down to this: good science takes time, and it cannot be rushed."
Republic Services, the main party responsible for the cleanup, said it is working with the EPA.