Credit: Wall Street Journal
Credit: Wall Street Journal

A smoldering fire burns roughly 1,000 feet away from the known radioactive wastes that were illegally dumped at the West Lake Landfill in St. Louis County in 1973. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has jurisdiction over the smoldering fire while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has jurisdiction over the radioactive wastes. Attorney General Koster filed a lawsuit against Republic Services in 2013 due to the smoldering fire breaking Missouri's environmental laws. The legal issues are ongoing. 

Our View

Two things need to happen at the West Lake Landfill: 

1) The St. Louis Army Corps of Engineers Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program must be put in charge of the site now! The Corps is right for the job because:

  • West Lake Landfill deserves a much needed second opinion after mistakes made by the EPA, 
  • it removes a significant amount of influence that Republic Services and Exelon Energy currently enjoy as a Superfund site, 
  • the Corps has the technical expertise and track record for the safe cleanup of radioactively contaminated sites in the St. Louis metro area, 
  • workers are better protected and compensated at FUSRAP sites than EPA Superfund sites, 
  • the Corps is already familiar with the site through current interagency agreements with EPA Region 7 so the transfer will be smooth, 
  • the Corps office is local and therefore more accessible to the community it's serving. 

2) MCE supports the safe removal of the radioactive wastes from the West Lake Landfill because the EPA's 2008 decision to "cap-and-leave" the wastes will remain a constant threat to our drinking water, public health, and our environment. The safe removal of the illegally dumped radioactive wastes is necessary because the West Lake Landfill:

  • was never designed to permanently store radioactive material,
  • has no liner separating the radioactive material from the groundwater,
  • is in the floodplain of the Missouri River,
  • is upstream from St. Louis regional drinking water intakes,
  • is in an urban area,
  • is vulnerable to earthquakes,
  • is threatened by a smoldering landfill fire or future fires, 
  • is susceptible to tornadoes, and
  • is at a site never designed to temporarily or permanently store radioactive material.

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