Date: November 19, 2015

Contact: Ed Smith, (314) 727-0600 x14,

Federal Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Remove EPA Region 7 as Lead Jurisdiction at West Lake Landfill

St. Louis, MO: Senator Blunt (R) and Congresswoman Wagner (R) introduced legislation today to appoint the Army Corps of Engineers (Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program – FUSRAP) as the lead jurisdictional agency to handle the unauthorized dumping of radioactive wastes at the West Lake Landfill in 1973. Cosponsoring the legislation is Senator McCaskill (D) and Congressman Clay (D).

“It’s thanks to our federally elected officials that the Corps of Engineers is already involved at the West Lake Landfill in a support role,” said Ed Smith with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “The Corps already has site familiarity that should lead to a smooth transition of jurisdiction if the bipartisan legislation becomes law.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 took over jurisdiction of the radioactive wastes at the West Lake Landfill in 1990. It took the EPA until 2008 to decide it would cap-and-leave the radioactive wastes forever at the unlined landfill. Public and political backlash to the decision led the EPA to reopen and reconsider its cap-and-leave decision in 2010. The EPA’s revaluation process is ongoing and it announced earlier this year that a proposed remedy would be announced before the end of 2016.

“This is a most wonderful and exciting day for all who have been and continue to be intimately involved in this environmental issue that affects many geographic communities. We are grateful to our elected officials for their listening ears and hearts and know that Congressional action will not be soon enough to get the Army Corp of Engineers FUSRAP on site,” said Sister Judy Bell with the Franciscan Sisters of Mary.

The Corps of Engineers cannot put forth its own independent decision at West Lake if it is put in charge after the EPA’s forthcoming decision is finalized. That’s why it’s important the Corps’ FUSRAP is put in charge legislatively as soon as possible.

The EPA’s handling of the radioactive wastes has been problematic. The following EPA Region 7 issues were shared with Missouri federally elected officials among others:

  1. EPA Region 7 was notified of a surface fire at the West Lake Landfill in 1995 yet it never considered a fire a threat to the radioactive materials in its 2008 decision to cap-and-leave the radioactive wastes forever.
  2. EPA Region 7 told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2001 that it would utilize a cap-and-leave decision at West Lake even though that decision was not made public until 2006.