Source: http://www.stltoday.com, April 29, 2014
By: Blythe Bernhard
More than 40 years after 43,000 tons of radioactive material were illegally dumped at the West Lake Landfill, Missouri’s attorney general wants the hauling routes tested for contamination.
Koster sent a letter Tuesday to the Environmental Protection Agency calling for radiation testing in the communities where trucks carried radioactive waste from storage sites on Latty Avenue in Hazelwood to the Bridgeton dump in the 1970s. The contaminated materials are byproducts of World War II-era uranium processing by Mallinckrodt Chemical Works.
In the letter, Koster wrote “your work cannot stop at the fence line” at West Lake to determine whether trucks dropped any of the materials along the route.
Chris Whitley, a spokesman for the EPA, said in a written statement “all validated information available to the state of Missouri and EPA indicates the radiologically impacted material remains confined to the site and that the site is currently protective of public health. As the EPA continues developing our work plans we’ll assess all available data and make determinations that will address any remaining testing requirements.”
A 2005 report from the Army Corps of Engineers shows that soil samples from 28 intersections between the Hazelwood storage sites and West Lake Landfill tested negative for radioactive contamination. The corps oversees cleanup of the nuclear waste sites near the airport.
Koster’s letter was released after he met for two hours in Jefferson City with Bridgeton and Maryland Heights residents who have ordered independent soil testing around the site.
Preliminary results from the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex, less than a mile from the landfill, indicate a spike in gamma radiation in soil taken from a drainage ditch. The results are being analyzed at a Wisconsin lab and by technicians at the EPA.
“Everybody now is on the same page,” said Dawn Chapman, one of the residents who met with Koster. “This is a serious time-critical issue. It’s time to figure out what to do.”
Koster also filed a motion Tuesday in St. Louis County Circuit Court asking for a trial date in the state’s lawsuit against landfill owner Republic Services for environmental violations related to an underground fire at the company’s adjacent Bridgeton Landfill. Construction is expected to begin soon on a barrier between the two landfills in an effort to keep the fire from reaching the radioactive waste.
Richard Callow, a spokesman for Republic Services, released a statement in response to Koster saying, “we note again for the record that our company’s involvement in this matter is that in 2008 we acquired the successor to the company that operated West Lake Landfill as part of the purchase of a larger competitor. We remain committed to the safety of the community and of our employees.”