Ed Smith: Policy Director 11-6-17
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a vital tool MCE uses to request documents from the federal government related to its activities and our environment. MCE has made several FOIA requests related to the radioactive West Lake Landfill Superfund site in St. Louis County over many years, specifically to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We are happy to announce the EPA has released over 17,000 pages of draft reports and correspondence with the financially responsible parties.
Sometimes our requests for documents are denied for various reasons allowed by law, including what is known as the deliberative process. Records can be denied to a person or organization making a FOIA request if the documents requested are drafts or are being used for a forthcoming decision. The EPA used the deliberative process in 2014 as justification for not releasing a National Remedy Review Board assessment of West Lake Landfill that MCE requested using FOIA. The agency ultimately released the document in 2016. That’s why we are pleased the EPA has released over 17,000 pages of draft reports and correspondence with the financially responsible parties. The draft reports include two versions of the Remedial Investigation and one version of the Feasibility Study. The correspondence gives us insight as to where the EPA and responsible parties agree and disagree.
The Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study will be the basis for the EPA’s proposed remedy that will be released for public comment. The EPA’s proposed remedy will call for the radioactive material to be capped and left at the unlined landfill in the Missouri River floodplain forever, partially removed, or fully removed. Following the public comment period, the EPA will release its Record of Decision, which can then only be challenged by the financially responsible parties, not the public.
MCE is sifting through the 17,000 pages before the proposed remedy is released. As for now, we agree with the EPA’s National Remedy Review Board finding that, “…it appears feasible to remove more highly contaminated material and significantly reduce long-term risk at the site.” Please consider a donation to MCE to support our staff time that is going into research and preparation for the public comment period. As for now, contact EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (202-564-4700) and tell him the St. Louis region supports removing the radioactive waste from the unlined landfill that sits in the Missouri River floodplain. Choosing to leave the radioactive wastes at a landfill never designed to contain such toxic material is not an option.