Landfill Owner Agrees to Dig Trench Between Burning Trash and Radioactive Waste
BRIDGETON (KMOX) – The owner of the smoldering Bridgeton Landfill is agreeing to dig a ditch to stop an underground trash fire from reaching radioactive waste buried at the nearby West Lake Landfill.
The following statement was released by the Environmental Protection Agency:
EPA Region 7 is welcoming a commitment by Republic Services, Inc., to construct an isolation barrier at the West Lake Landfill Superfund Site in Bridgeton, Mo., Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said today.
Although EPA has not yet seen the formal, detailed plans that will outline the construction of such a barrier, the Agency learned today that Republic Services has committed to the project. The barrier will separate Bridgeton Landfill, which Republic Services manages, from the radiation-contaminated material at the West Lake Landfill Site, which EPA oversees.
“This Agency is pleased that Republic Services intends to apply those provisions of its agreement with the State of Missouri to take this positive and protective step,” EPA Regional Administrator Brooks said.
On May 14, 2013, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced that his office had negotiated a legal order with Republic Services, requiring the company to take a series of steps to contain and control odorous gases at the Bridgeton Landfill, address the underground smoldering, and provide temporary relocation assistance to local residents affected by the odors. The state’s order also requires Republic Services to compensate the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) for its costs related to environmental sampling and monitoring. The action was brought under the state’s legal authority to regulate Republic Services’ operation of the Bridgeton Landfill.
“EPA Region 7, in cooperation with the Missouri Attorney General and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, has long expressed concerns to Republic Services that the smoldering at Bridgeton Landfill not be allowed to impact the material at West Lake.” Brooks said. “Science and engineering experts at EPA’s Office of Research and Development have helped Region 7 analyze this challenge, and will work with the Region to review formal plans for an isolation barrier that Republic will submit.”
EPA Region 7 will continue to oversee a separate and ongoing supplemental environmental investigation, focusing on groundwater sampling, radiation sampling, and more detailed site characterization at West Lake Landfill. That investigation ultimately will inform the Agency’s work as it develops an amended Record of Decision, which will outline a final remedy for the site.
The landfill’s owner later sent a statement reading:
Bridgeton Landfill, LLC today announced that after months of careful planning and preparation, it is ready to begin installation of additional upgrades and remediation to the Bridgeton Landfill, including the installation of an isolation barrier between the Bridgeton and West Lake Landfills. With today’s announcement Bridgeton Landfill is seeking to move beyond the North Quarry Contingency Plan that the Landfill has been negotiating with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Missouri Attorney General, by initiating response actions without the Contingency Plan’s triggers having been met.
The isolation barrier will ensure that the subsurface smoldering event, located in the South Quarry at the Bridgeton Landfill, will never come into contact with the low-level, radiologically impacted material buried over 1,200 feet away in the neighboring West Lake Landfill. In addition to the isolation barrier, the Landfill will also complete the following in the North Quarry of Bridgeton Landfill:
- expand and enhance the gas system,
- install an Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol (EVOH) cap over the entire North Quarry, and
- install collection surface trenches that allow for liquid and gas collection under the cap.
Richard Callow, company spokesperson, stated, “Bridgeton Landfill is electing to take these additional actions because it is a responsible company that cares for its more than 300 local employees, their families and the entire Bridgeton community. For far too long, fears of an unlikely unknown have concerned our community, and today we are taking action so that our neighbors and concerned citizens can rest assured that they are safe.”
Bridgeton Landfill, LLC has been working on North Quarry improvements for months as a project of this magnitude takes time and planning. The Landfill has been and will continue working with the EPA, MDNR and the Missouri Attorney General to secure proper permitting and approvals. The EPA will be the primary agency to oversee the construction of the isolation barrier, with involvement throughout the process by Attorney General Koster and MDNR. MDNR will continue its oversight of the permitted landfill area which contains Bridgeton Landfill, including the gas system expansion and capping.
It is anticipated that the gas system improvements will begin in the near future and will last approximately six weeks. Once those are completed, the EVOH cap will be installed over the North Quarry. The isolation barrier will be constructed concurrently, pending additional site investigation which will begin shortly now that authorization has been received. None of the work is expected to increase odors in the community and the remediation project is weather permitting.
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