Date: August 17, 2015

Contact: Ed Smith, (314) 727-0600,

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 the 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 the 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 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).