BRIDGETON, Mo. (KMOX) – The federal government shutdown has delayed plans for a firebreak trench at the burning Bridgeton Landfill.
Before the trench can be dug, the Environmental Protection Agency must test the dirt for radiation to ensure it is safe for workers. But now the EPA reports the field work planned for October 10 has been postponed indefinitely because of the shutdown.
That’s frustrating news to neighborhood activist Dawn Chapman.
“I’m a little stunned and I’m really worried. This needs to happen, this is important, and here’s the federal government, the EPA, coming in and saying ‘hey, nobody’s home, nobody’s there to watch you so you can’t do it until we’re ready,'” Chapman said.
The Missouri Coalition for the Environment is welcoming the delay because of concerns that a brush hog might be used to clear vegetation from the site and possibly stir contaminated dust into the air.
It was announced two weeks ago that Republic Services Inc., owners of the site, would dig the trench in order to keep the underground fire away from the nearby West Lake Landfill, a radioactive waste site. The decision was applauded by activists as well as the Pattonville Fire Protection District.
“We have a time-critical situation. We need to get this trench dug,” Chapman says. “Nothing’s going to stop this fire, it keeps going and going and going. This trench is the one thing everyone agrees on is absolutely critical.”