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Koster Sues Landfill Owner to Put Out Raging Garbage Fire

Kevin Killeen
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KMOX/Kevin Killeen

KMOX/Kevin Killeen

BRIDGETON, Mo. (KMOX) — The State of Missouri files suit against the owner of a Bridgeton landfill where an underground fire has neighbors afraid for their health.

Attorney General Chris Koster filed the suit against Republic Services Inc., which runs the Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill, where the underground garbage fire has been burning for two years.

“Our goal is no longer to find the most cost-effective solution,” Koster said, “My goal in coming in with this lawsuit is to find the solution no matter the cost.”

The fire at the 52-acre site has been expanding at a pace of two-feet per month, until January when it quickened to consume 25 feet per month, Koster said.

“It basically smells like burnt hair or burnt plastic,” Koster said.

Recent air tests by the Department of Natural Resource have detected elevated levels of benzene and hydrogen sulfide, Koster said. He’s also concerned about the liquid sludge oozing from the landfill that could threaten ground water.

“My understanding is that the sludge material is the byproduct of the burning,” Koster said, “It’s a liquid that is collected at the bottom of this landfill quarry and has to be pumped out every day. MSD, the Metropolitan Sewer District, stopped taking the sludge several months back. And now it is being stored on site in tanker trucks.”

Koster says he does not believe the fire threatens the integrity of the adjacent West Lake Landfill, where radioactive waste is stored from the Manhattan Project.

“The two sites are separated by twelve-hundred feet and at least three opportunities to put a dead halt on the fire, if that were to occur. So, I think that those scenarios are a bit remote to talk about now.”

Republic Services Inc. issued a statement saying, “We have already started the process of working with the Attorney General as we share the same goal to dramatically reduce the odor from the landfill while protecting nearby residents and employees, and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations.”

Copyright KMOX

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