By Ed Smith
Originally posted on: 07/14/2017
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it will release a proposed decision regarding radioactive removal in the very near future. MCE contends testing remains inadequate to reach a decision. The testing released in March 2016 revealed that radioactively impacted material (RIM) extends into the North Quarry of the Bridgeton Landfill. Whether the RIM extends beyond this point is unknown. The EPA has so far refused to test the estimated 600 feet between the known areas of radioactive contamination and the ongoing smoldering fire. The only way to be sure there is no radioactivity beyond the currently identified areas is to perform grid sampling throughout the landfill complex, which has never been done.
The West Lake Landfill started receiving garbage and industrial waste before state and federal landfill regulations were created, including the unauthorized dumping of radioactive material at the site in 1973. Since the EPA assumed jurisdiction in 1990, the agency has never required a complex-wide grid test to determine the extent of the radioactive contamination. Rather, the EPA has based its investigation for RIM on what is known as the “step-out” method. The step-out method means that testing begins at a point of known contamination and continues by literally taking a “step-out” from the contamination until the testing comes back negative. Most of the radioactivity is below the surface, so the only way to find out if areas of the landfill are contaminated with radioactivity is to perform a subsurface test.
The step-out subsurface testing failed to identify the extent of radioactive contamination at the landfill during two decades of EPA jurisdiction. It failed because the radioactive material dumped at the landfill was moved around and put in different areas before most of it was buried, or simply put, the contamination is not contiguous. The radioactive dumping predated regulations and occurred 17 years before the EPA was put in charge of the site. The radioactive contamination in the North Quarry may have never been found if not for the smoldering fire and testing for a proposed physical barrier, the plans for which have not yet been revealed.… Read the rest