St. Louis area residents sue over West Lake Landfill Superfund site
- Two residents filed separate lawsuits, both trying for class action status, in St. Louis County Circuit Court Tuesday, seeking compensation for damages caused by what they call negligent handling of hazardous material at the West Lake Landfill and nearby sites, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- One of the plaintiffs, John C. Kitchin, Jr., who is suing Bridgeton Landfill LLC, Republic Services, Allied Services and Rock Road Industries, claims his auto body shop has "lost significant business, revenue and customers" as a result of the waste from the West Lake Landfill site. The other lawsuit, which names other companies, alleges "significant damages" from another St. Louis area storage site for hazardous waste.
- Bridgeton Landfill LLC, a subsidiary of Republic, called the suit against the company "without merit" in a statement and pledged to defend itself in court. The company lists numerous government agencies that declared the landfill as posing no risk to people outside of the property.
Other lawsuits against Bridgeton Landfill LLC have ended in settlements with homeowners. Those, however, were concerning the nearby Bridgeton Landfill site, not the West Lake Landfill site. Additionally, a St. Louis County survey of residents near the site did not find higher rates of asthma compared to others.
However, a recent HBO documentary drew significant attention to the West Lake site and adjoining areas, and Environmental Protection Administrator (EPA) Scott Pruitt designated the site for "immediate" and "intense" action. It is yet unclear how these lawsuits will play out.
On a more concrete note, EPA recently published its proposed plans for the West Lake site, though the plan won't be finalized until after a public comment period. EPA is calling for a partial excavation of hazardous, radioactive material from the West Lake site and then capping the rest.
A partial excavation and cap is likely to be more expensive for responsible parties (including, in this case, Bridgeton Landfill LLC, the Republic subsidiary), though some in the community are calling for a complete excavation. Bridgeton Landfill LLC has pledged to fully participate in the public comment period, which includes a public meeting March 6.
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