Missouri Coalition for the Environment Urges County Executive and County Council to Save Sylvan Springs Park

For More Information Contact:

Heather Navarro, Executive Director                                  Kathleen Henry, President

Missouri Coalition for the Environment                              Great Rivers Environmental Law Center

3115 So. Grand Blvd.                                                                      319 No. Fourth St., Ste. 800

St. Louis, MO 63118                                                                        St. Louis, MO 63102

(314) 727-0600 ext. 10                                                                  (314) 231-4181

hnavarro [at] moenviron [dot] org                                          khenry [at] greatriverslaw [dot] org

www.moenvironment.org                                                            www.greatriverslaw.org

September 1, 2015

Missouri Coalition for the Environment Urges County Executive and County Council to Save Sylvan Springs Park

On behalf of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE), Great Rivers Environmental Law Center has written to County Executive Steve Stenger urging the County to save Sylvan Springs Park.  MCE’s letter follows Senator Claire McCaskill’s letter sent to County Executive Stenger last week urging him to sell off the property.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment has long been an active watchdog of County and state Parks and says this sale may be illegal as the County accepted the Park and used it as a Park for 65-years, investing millions of taxpayer funds dedicated to parks into the maintenance and improvement of the Park.

Furthermore, the use of this Park is not a long-term solution to the Veterans’ Affairs’ problem of running out of cemetery space, but it will take the Park from County residents forever.

This is not the first federal agency to try to take the Park.  In 1969, the Coast Guard attempted to buy 8 acres adjacent to it, but County Executive Larry Roos stood up for the citizens and County Parks and rebuffed the efforts, and the County bought those acres and made them part of Sylvan Springs Park.

“The County should recognize this is not a sustainable long-term plan and the federal government will come back for the rest of the park when it runs out of room next time,” said Heather Navarro, Executive Director of MCE.  “The County should preserve all of its parks as they are vital to our region.  Two-thirds of the 38-acres of Sylvan Springs Park proposed for sale are covered with large oak trees and other hardwood species, and some of those oaks are probably 200 years old.”

“The federal government sold the land to the County for use as a Park and the County accepted it and used it as a Park for 65-years,” said Kathleen Henry, President of Great Rivers.  “The County should not give it up now.”

Sylvan Springs Park was one of the first County Parks and has a rich history, including hosting performances by Judy Garland and Bob Hope in World War II.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) state-level conservation organization, is a force for clean air, clean water and clean energy in Missouri.  Since 1969 it has educated and activated Missourians to protect the land we all love.  Its web address is: www.moenvironment.org.

Great Rivers is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm in St. Louis that provides free and reduced-fee legal services to those working to protect the environment and public health.  Its web address is: www.greatriverslaw.org.


AG Koster & Federal Judge Delay Clean Water Rule Implementation in Missouri


Date: August 28, 2015

Contact: Heather Navarro, (314) 727-0600, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

AG Koster & Federal Judge Delay Clean Water Rule Implementation in Missouri

St. Louis, MO: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its final Clean Water Protection Rule. The rule was meant to clarify ambiguity in the Clean Water Act that led to a significant amount of litigation. Yesterday, a federal judge in North Dakota granted a Preliminary Injunction to 13 states, including Missouri, seeking to block implementation of the final rule.

“Missouri has yet to meet the 1983 deadlines of the Clean Water Act” said Heather Navarro, Executive Director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “We cannot afford further delay. This ruling denies protections to vital Missouri waters while allowing polluters to continue degrading the natural resources all of us downstream depend upon.”


Concern Grows About Smoldering Fire Moving Toward Radioactive Wastes at West Lake Landfill


Date: August 17, 2015

Contact: Ed Smith, (314) 727-0600, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Concern Grows About Smoldering Fire Moving Toward Radioactive Wastes at West Lake Landfill

St. Louis, MO: On August 10, 2015, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued a letter to Republic Services that expressed great concern about the smoldering fire moving into the north quarry and closer to the radioactive wastes at the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in St. Louis County, Missouri.

The letter sent by DNR to Republic Services says, “Given the uncertainties regarding installation of an isolation barrier near the West Lake Landfill Area 1…the SWMP is requiring submittal of work plans and schedules for supplementary corrective measures…for review and approval by SWMP to ensure Bridgeton Landfill has immediately, implementable measures at hand. With installation of the expanded heat extraction pilot study which has yet to be proven, Bridgeton Landfill has no additional measures approved and immediately, implementable.”

“The only way to ensure the radioactive materials do not come in contact with a smoldering or surface fire at this landfill is to begin planning for the removal of the radioactive wastes,” said Ed Smith with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “It’s past time for the state and federal government to remove Republic Services from the decision-making process so that the public interest is best served instead of a fiduciary duty to Republic shareholders like Bill Gates,” Mr. Smith added.

Another part of the DNR letter requires Republic Services remove reinforced concrete pipes (RCPs) in the North Quarry that could be allowing oxygen into the landfill and increasing the risk of an independent smoldering fire. Republic Services was required to remove RCPs in the South Quarry during the summer of 2013 and offered voluntary relocation to residents within one mile due to an anticipated increase in odors.

“We expect Republic Services to be the good corporate neighbor it claimed to be in 2013 and offer financial assistance for people near the landfill that want to relocate due to an increase in odors,” said Ed Smith.

A summary of the DNR letter to Republic Services is on the second page of this press release. A copy of the Republic Services relocation application from 2013 is also included as a separate attachment.  




The DNR letter to Republic Services includes the following important details:

  • The ‘Heat Extraction Pilot Study’ cooling line does not extend across the entire neck area, from quarry wall to quarry wall, which continues to allow an open pathway for potential progression of the subsurface smoldering fire (pg. 1-2).
  • Data reported by Bridgeton Landfill continues to show an area of concern in the Neck which seemingly is beyond the zone of influence of the Heat Extraction Pilot Study (pg. 2).
  • There are uncertainties regarding the installation of an isolation barrier near the West Lake Landfill Area 1 (pg. 6).  
  • DNR states there is no plan currently available or approved of to deter the smoldering fire from moving into the North Quarry (pg. 6).
  • The North Quarry contains unidentified materials that were accepted previous to landfill regulations. (pg. 6).
  • DNR requires Republic Services to have a corrective measure using inert gas injection or other available technology for “hot spot” treatment in the North Quarry to contain any independent fires that might be generated (pg. 6).
  • DNR requires Republic Services to complete connection of the previously drilled North Quarry gas extraction wells…to the gas collection and control system (pg. 6).
  • Reinforced concrete pipes (RCPs) in the south quarry allowed intrusion of oxygen and emission of landfill gases to ambient air thereby creating substantial odors and a public nuisance. RCPs in the North Quarry may be contributing to localized oxygen intrusion as these North Quarry RCPs have not been properly abandoned. Republic Services must prepare a work plan and schedule for the abandonment of the RCPs in the North Quarry (pg. 6-7).
  • DNR is concerned a smoldering fire is moving into the North Quarry because (pg. 7):
    • Recent submitted reports identify seven areas of the North Quarry where methane emissions were between 700-1,500 parts per million (ppm),
    • Department staff observed leachate outbreaks along the north slope of the North Quarry in three areas in June 2015, and
    • Department staff recorded visual observations that show the beginning of movement of waste materials from the “high” North Quarry to the “lower” neck area.
  • DNR requires that the cap must be enhanced to minimize oxygen intrusion into the underlying waste mass that may allow for increased risk of a new fire, capture of landfill gases that would otherwise be released as fugitive emissions including odors, prevention of leachate outbreaks that could contaminate ground and surface waters, and monitoring for uneven settlement in the waste mass requiring fill (pg. 7).
  • DNR requires that Republic Services place survey pins in the North Quarry and along the North Quarry’s slopes to monitor for any rapid waste reduction that could indicate the presence and/or movement of a subsurface smoldering fire in the North Quarry or the need for additional fill material for stabilization (pg. 7).
  • Enhancements of the North Quarry must be complete no later than December 1, 2015 (pg. 8).
  • With the reduction in available methane and hydrogen for combusting landfill gases, Republic Services will need to ensure Bridgeton Landfill complies with the requirements of the Clean Air Act, Missouri Clean Air Law, and Missouri Solid Waste Management Law and implementing regulations with regards to utilization of natural gas as a supplement fuel (pg. 8). 

Editorial: Corps of Engineers should FUSRAP-up West Lake's toxic waste

from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch 

August 9, 2015 

The best solution for cleaning up radioactive waste buried at the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton is to give control of the site to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The corps runs the tongue-twistingly named Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP), which controls every other site in St. Louis County that is contaminated with nuclear waste. The radioactive waste in Bridgeton came from another location that is now a FUSRAP site.

At those other sites, the Corps has either cleaned up the waste or is in the process of doing it. Some of the waste at those sites was the waste that has been at West Lake, which became a dump site in the 1950s. Radioactive materials, created as a byproduct of projects at Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, were dumped in a 200-acre hole there beginning in 1973.

Four years after that, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigated the site and published a report. TheEnvironmental Protection Agency designated West Lake as a Superfund site in 1990, making it eligible for special federal funding to clean up the nation’s most hazardous waste sites.

The EPA has had control of the site for 25 years, but nothing has been removed. Not far away, another part of the landfill is burning. Euphemistically, the below-ground fire is called an SSE, a “subsurface smoldering event,” by the EPA and Republic Services, the Phoenix-based waste hauler that owns the site. In the presence of oxygen, the SSE would become a fire.


Should the burn reach the radioactive material, bad things would happen. The EPA says that’s unlikely, as “all current data suggest the SSE remains distant from the areas containing known RIM (radiologically impacted material).” We must hope the EPA is more accurate than it is fast-acting.

The EPA has killed a lot of trees ordering study after study of the contaminated landfill and explaining why gathering data and performing evaluations is better than taking action. Activists have speculated that maintaining the Superfund site provides job security for EPA bureaucrats in Region 7 (headquartered in Kansas City and overseeing four Midwest states).

The corps FUSRAP program often digs up and disposes of waste at sites it controls. The prospect that it would do that at West Lake raises both hope and concern. Hope, because it would be a final remedy. It would end such environmental worries as radioactive runoff seeping into groundwater and escaping radon and radium gases, the daughter products from uranium decay, which can cause cancer if inhaled or ingested.

Concern, because no matter how precise and careful an excavation may be, it will cause corollary problems.

The primary problem is expense. The budget for all FUSRAP sites around the country is in the neighborhood of $100 million, and there already are other projects waiting to be put on the FUSRAP agenda. Getting West Lake onto the agenda and funded could take years, with the eventual solution even further off.

Corps spokesman Mike Petersen told the Post-Dispatch’s Jacob Barker this month that the agency is “not funded for a project of that scope.”

St. Louis-area members of Congress have been pushing for the FUSRAP solution. The situation got more complicated recently when the Chicago-based Exelon Corp., one of the parties potentially liable for cleanup at the site, said it had documents indicating it may not be liable for all of the waste and asked for more testing to determine the extent of its responsibility.

That prompted the St. Louis-area congressional delegation to call for a new review of whether the site can be moved from EPA control to the Corps. Members of the delegation told Mr. Barker that their understanding is that West Lake isn’t already under FUSRAP because a private contractor (for a former subsidiary of Exelon) contaminated the site, not the government.

It gets more complicated: According to a letter the delegationsent to the Department of Energy, which used to run FUSRAP and had liability for early nuclear weapons activities, the DOE may have had jurisdiction over the material Exelon says it may not be liable for.

Republic Services has opposed moving control of the site to the Corps. “Transferring control of the site to (the Corps) at this point would delay the remedial action and is unnecessary,” Richard Callow, a spokesman for Republic, told Mr. Barker in an email.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who is suing Republic for the burning portion of the Bridgeton Landfill and has been critical of the EPA’s actions at West Lake, likened changing agencies to “getting trapped in a federal bureaucratic Rube Goldberg machine.”

As the smoldering potato of liability and responsibility is being tossed around among corporate, federal and state officials, area residents and environmental activists remain frustrated.

Kay Drey, a longtime anti-nuclear activist, says it’s clear to her that the radioactive materials — which she says are some of the most toxic known to mankind — must be excavated and the site cleaned. It’s long past time for that to have been done, she says.

Dawn Chapman, a nearby resident who has been active in seeking removal of the waste, says that after 25 years of waiting for the EPA to do something, she is skeptical that the agency will deliver on its promise of proposing a remedy by January 2017.

She’s right. Twenty-five years is long enough. The federal government should step up and rid this corner of St. Louis of a festering and potentially dangerous problem. Send the bills out later. The Corps of Engineers should FUSRAP it up and get rid of it.

St. Louis Foodshed Study Evaluates the Evolution of Industrial Food Production

Review of Agriculture data from 1925-2007 within a 100-mile radius of St. Louis

St. Louis, MO: A new report called the St. Louis Regional Food Study was released today by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE). The study analyzes the impacts of industrial agriculture on our diet, health, and environment. MCE looked at 59 counties within a 100-mile radius around the City of St. Louis using agricultural data from 1925-2007, called a “foodshed.” 

The report found that only one tenth of one percent of cropland in the 100-mile radius is dedicated to non-commodity fruits and vegetables. “The St. Louis foodshed had more than six times the number of acres growing fruits and vegetables in 1925 than we do today,” said Melissa Vatterott, lead author of the study. “We have the opportunity to feed our region but instead we are growing corn and soy that are used as fuel, animal feed or unhealthy, processed foods.” 

Starting in 2012, MCE gathered an array of county-based data that relates to our health, the environment, our food, and the local economy in St. Louis and surrounding 58 counties. The St. Louis foodshed spends over $17 billion annually on food, with much of the money leaving the region to pay for processing, packaging, transportation, and other costs associated with our national industrialized food system. 

“The higher per-unit cost of raising a tomato on a small farm in our foodshed puts local tomatoes at a cost disadvantage compared to the economies of hundreds-acre tomato plantations in Florida, Mexico, and Texas,” said Andy Ayers, a local food entrepreneur. “This is directly related to artificially low petroleum prices from the fertilizers and pesticides used by the mono-crop farms to the diesel fuel the 18-wheelers use to bring produce into this market.” 

“We hope the foodshed study increases collaborations with local farmers, food providers, health advocates and people who care about creating a local food system that benefits our health, economy, and environment,” said Vatterott. “The Missouri Coalition for the Environment looks forward to helping create this vision.” 

More information on the Foodshed Study can be found here: here



NRC Delays Callaway Nuclear License Extension

NRC Delays Callaway Nuclear License Extension 

On December 10, 2014, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission delayed the licnese extension of Ameren Missouri's Callaway 1 nuclear reactor. The temporary delay is a result of MCE's request for a hearing with the NRC. MCE appluads the NRC's decision not rush the license extension given the pending legality of its newly published Continued Storage rules for high level nuclear wastes, which will be determined by the US Court of Appeals in the near future while the current operating license for Callaway 1 does not expire until 2024. 

Callaway1 2

Representative Long Misses the Boat on Clean Water

Heather B. Navarro, Executive Director

Printed in the Springfield News-Leader on May 20, 2015

Representative Billy Long’s letter of May 16th regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule to protect clean water is a flood of misinformation. The proposed Clean Water Protection Rule is a joint effort by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect our water – the water that 1 in 3 Americans depend on for drinking. Normal farming and ranching practices do not require permits and will not under this rule. Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 and the State of Missouri has been delegated the responsibility to approve and enforce regulations that protect water quality for a variety of uses including drinking, playing, and wildlife habitat. Over the past 40 years there has been confusion about how to implement these regulations. The proposed rule seeks to clear up these inconsistencies for the benefit of everyone.

Read more: Representative...

Groups Applaud Bipartisan Call for DOE Review of the West Lake Landfill

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                                                 July 22, 2015

Contact:               Dawn Chapman (Just Moms STL) 314-739-7634

Heather Navarro (Missouri Coalition for the Environment) 314-808-4345

Gale Thackrey (Franciscan Sisters of Mary) 618-304-2660


Groups Applaud Bipartisan Call for DOE Review of the West Lake Landfill

St. Louis, MO: People and organizations following the ongoing issues at the West Lake Landfill applaud the bipartisan letter from Senator McCaskill, Senator Blunt, Representative Clay, and Representative Wagner sent to the Department of Energy. The bipartisan letter notes inconsistencies from the DOE regarding the West Lake Landfill and its qualifying as a FUSRAP site.  

“Republic Services has too much influence over the process at West Lake because it’s a Superfund site,” said Dawn Chapman of Just Moms STL. “Moving West Lake to FUSRAP reduces the influence of Republic Services while giving our community an independent second opinion regarding the removal of the radioactive wastes.” 

Radioactive wastes at the West Lake Landfill originated in North St. Louis County at the Hazelwood/Latty Avenue site currently being cleaned up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under FUSRAP. The Corps of Engineers collects the science to support the decision making for the radioactive materials. In contrast, because West Lake Landfill remains a Superfund site, financially responsible parties provide the science that determines the cleanup. The financially responsible parties include Republic Services, Exelon Energy, and the Department of Energy.

 “FUSRAP makes sense at the West Lake Landfill because all of the nuclear weapons radioactive sites in the St. Louis area need to be treated equally,” said Ed Smith with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “The Corps of Engineers is already working with the EPA Superfund program at West Lake to provide technical assistance so a transfer to FUSRAP should be smooth because there is already site familiarity.”  

“Putting FUSRAP in charge at West Lake means the best government agency to make these decisions will be in charge,” said Gale Thackrey, eco-justice coordinator with the Franciscan Sisters of Mary. “We know this is an uphill battle and encourage our elected officials to legislatively put FUSRAP in charge at West Lake if the DOE refuses to act on their request.”

Organizations and Individuals Supporting FUSRAP Include:

  • St. Louis County Council (unanimous, bipartisan resolution)
  • St. Charles County Council (unanimous, bipartisan resolution)
  • Pattonville School District
  • Pattonville Fire Protection District
  • DePaul Hospital SSM
  • North County Incorporated
  • City of Bridgeton
  • City of Black Jack
  • Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (district includes the West Lake Landfill)
  • Representative Bill Otto (district includes the West Lake Landfill)
  • Representative Keith English
  • Former St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley
  • Franciscan Sisters of Mary
  • Just Moms STL
  • Missouri Coalition for the Environment
  • Kay Drey 


Clean Power Plan release

Missouri Stakeholders Support State Effort to Develop Clean Power Plan

For immediate release: July 14, 2014

Missouri Stakeholders Support State Effort to Develop Clean Power Plan
State begins process to implement plan to reduce carbon pollution

Contact: Heather Navarro, Missouri Coalition for the Environment 
314.808.4345, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Key stakeholders will attend a Missouri Department of Natural Labadie 001smallResources (DNR) meeting today to support a state plan for reducing carbon pollution.

Today’s DNR meeting is one of the first with stakeholders to discuss the Environmental 
Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan released in June. The proposed EPA standards under the Clean Air Act would require Missouri to reduce its carbon pollution by 21percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.

Key environmental groups, energy producers, faith organizations, and other stakeholders support efforts to craft a state plan that both reduces carbon pollution and benefits Missouri’s economy.

“Missouri has an opportunity to create jobs, spur energy innovation, and protect our health with a strong state plan that curbs carbon pollution,” said Heather Navarro of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

Read more: Clean Power Plan...

Survey Shows Missouri Voters Support State Plan to Cut Carbon Pollution

 For immediate release: November 12, 2014

Contact: Heather Navarro, Missouri Coalition for the Environment
314.808.4345, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PJ Wilson, Renew Missouri
417.459.7468, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Survey shows 77% of Missouri voters support a state plan to cut carbon pollution

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Polling data released today by Clean Air Missouri shows Missouri voters overwhelming support a state plan that would reduce carbon pollution. Results from a statewide survey of 638 likely voters conducted in September by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, indicate 77% of Missourians favor a state plan that would reduce carbon pollution in Missouri by:

  • closing certain old, outdated and highly polluting coal power plants;
  • improving the efficiency of other existing coal plants;
  • making greater use of existing natural gas power plants;
  • increasing use of clean and renewable energy like wind and solar; and
  • expanding utility programs to help consumers improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce their electricity bills. 

“This survey indicates Missourians are ready to do something about carbon pollution,” said Heather Navarro, Executive Director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. ”We encourage the Governor and other state policy makers to implement a comprehensive state plan that reduces carbon pollution, increases the use of clean and renewable energy and expands energy efficiency to clean up our air, strengthen our economy and secure our energy future.”

Read more: Survey Shows...

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