The Missouri Coalition for the Environment supports full removal of the uncontained radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill because this is the safest long-term option for human health and our local environment.
The West Lake Landfill was never designed for permanent radioactive material storage. The St. Louis region is an urban area vulnerable to earthquakes and tornadoes. The landfill currently contains a smoldering fire that has the potential to reach the waste. There is no liner separating the radioactive waste from the groundwater, and the landfill is in the Missouri River floodplain, upstream from regional St. Louis drinking water intakes.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently has jurisdiction of the site and needs to reach a decision for the removal of the radioactive materials at the unlined West Lake Landfill. The EPA and financially responsible parties acknowledge removal is the safest long-term option for human health and the St. Louis region. Unfortunately, the EPA has not required proper and necessary testing to reach an informed decision at the site.
Radioactive material has been safely removed and transported from sites around St. Louis County and the country by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Clean up procedures are strongly controlled and monitored to ensure minimal risks to both workers and the community. Leaving the waste in the landfill merely benefits the bottom line of the financially responsible parties at the expense of the surrounding community. The EPA’s own National Remedy Review Board stated radioactive material could be safely removed from the landfill with available technology.
By stalling on the clean up of the West Lake Landfill, we are borrowing from our children and grandchildren. The landfill poses a risk to our drinking water. It is within two miles of the Missouri River and groundwater at the landfill has already been contaminated by radioactive materials. As good stewards of our planet, we must safeguard against current and future threats to drinking water. Removal of the radioactivity will eliminate the threat of future radioactive migration into the air and water in St. Louis County.