UPDATE: The EPA held a meeting on Monday to educate the Bridgeton, MO community on the possibility of capping the West Lake Landfill—a solution that was proposed eight years ago. However, the EPA explained there are other options to dealing with the landfill, such as removing some or all of the waste.
The catch: Residents will need to wait until the end of 2016 to hear if a wealth of study results will convince the EPA to move in the direction of waste removal, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"I’m surprised you’re even still considering the 2008 Record of Decision (to cap West Lake)," said nuclear activist Kay Drey in the meeting on Monday, as reported by the Dispatch. "There was such an outcry of discomfort from the public ... Tonight is like stepping back into some time warp."
However EPA's Regional Superfund Program Director Mary Peterson shot down these remarks, explaining that the proposal was never "thrown out," as reported in the Dispatch.
- The Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission has denied Republic Service's appeal challenging a state order to install new cooling equipment intended to contain the underground fire that’s been burning at Bridgeton Landfill.
- In December, the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) gave the company two weeks to begin installing the cooling loop barrier to prevent the fire from spreading to a portion of the landfill containing radioactive contamination from adjacent West Lake Landfill. But Republic wrote, "There is no need for further heat extraction in the neck area, given that the reaction is not in or spreading through the neck, and an existing heat extraction system is successfully operating in this area," as reported in the St. Louis Dispatch.
- Nowhere is it stated when the order will now take effect. Republic says it continues to work with DNR and the EPA on an acceptable way to separate the Bridgeton and West Lake sites.
The company and regulators have the same goal: making sure the long-burning underground fire does not spread to Bridgeton Landfill’s northern quarry, which could be disastrous if it touches the radioactive materials there.
Where the authorities and Republic are at odds is on methodology. Republic continues to object to DNR’s orders, which come with a hefty price tag. EPA is trying to nudge Republic toward installing a barrier between the dumps, possibly with a similar cooling system.
"With the dismissal of this appeal, Republic is out of excuses," said Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster in a statement. "It should begin the installation of the cooling loops immediately."
But Republic has deferred to another source, stating, "We will continue to work this out with the EPA," as reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Bridgeton and West Lake saga has been ongoing for five years, with officials finally requesting of the Obama administration that it clean up the radioactive area near the fire—a request that has yet to be sanctioned. For now, a study is underway to determine if emissions from the site could be affecting respiratory function of nearby residents.