BRIDGETON, Mo. (KMOX) - An environmental group says St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley has a conflict of interest that might explain his failure to push for removal of nuclear waste near the burning Bridgeton Landfill.
For much of his time as County Executive, Charlie Dooley has had financial and political ties to Richard Callow. Callow is a political consultant who is now working in public relations for Republic Services, the company that owns the burning landfill and the nearby nuclear waste dump at West Lake.
Callow has donated $2,700 to Dooley’s political campaigns and Dooley has spent $29,000 in campaign money for Callow’s political help.
Ed Smith with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment says that’s not right.
“When your friend’s working for the company that’s stinking up the area and is financially responsible for radioactive waste, it may not be in Charlie Dooley’s interest to go after a company that his friend’s working for,” Smith says.
Smith and other citizens concerned about the waste believe Dooley should call on Congress to dig it up and remove it from St. Louis County.
When asked about the connections between himself and Callow at Tuesday’s St. Louis County Council meeting, Dooley denied they have had any effect on his decisions in Bridgeton.
“That person has no determination about the kind of policy on how we protect our citizens in St. Louis County,” Dooley said.
According to the county executive, two years have passed since Callow was on his payroll.
“Richard Callow’s not on the county’s payroll, nor is he on the campaign payroll,” Dooley said. “In my mind, that’s not a conflict.”
Dooley has become a common target for those in Bridgeton and surrounding communities who are concerned about the underground fire’s proximity to nuclear waste and the intrinsic health effects.
“Charlie Dooley needs to make an appearance himself,” says Dawn Chapman, a Maryland Heights mother of three who helps run a Facebook page on the West Lake Landfill. “He needs to come out here and stand next to us because I’ve never seen him.”
When told of Dooley’s ties to Callow, Chapman said it makes her uneasy.
“It does make me really nervous to hear those numbers. It’s frustrating, you know? Maybe I should go take out a personal loan and hire Richard Callow,” Chapman said.