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Surface Fire Extinguished at Bridgeton Landfill

Brian Kelly/Brad Choat
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Bridgeton landfill fire response on February 16, 2014 (KMOX/Brian Kelly)

Bridgeton landfill fire response on February 16, 2014 (KMOX/Brian Kelly)

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BRIDGETON, Mo. (KMOX) - A Sunday morning fire at the Bridgeton landfill is out, but at least one emergency responder is raising concerns about how the situation was handled.

Pattonville Assistant Fire Chief Matt Lavanchy says an air supply line broke, igniting gases.

Crews were able to bury it with dirt and put it out.

Air quality tests in the area showed no hazardous materials.

But, Lavanchy says what concerns him is that Republic Services did not follow protocol in spotting the fire and notifying authorities, “In this case, we were shooting from the hip early on, for about half an hour, because we weren’t getting any information.”

A spokesman for Bridgeton Landfill LLC sent KMOX a written response, “As part of our investigation into the origin of the surface fire, we will conduct an after-action review of the entire incident to include notification of and coordination with first responders. The EPA was on site at the time of the incident, and Pattonville Fire Department was early onto the scene, consistent with the response plan. We appreciate everyone’s coordination and prompt response this morning.”

A nearby resident was in tears while speaking with KMOX at the scene. She said she found out about the fire from her teenage daughter who read about it on social media, “It’s time for this to stop and for them to tell the truth. That’s what I want, the truth.”

The fire was in the south part of the south quarry, on the opposite end of the landfill from where radioactive waste was detected.

Here’s Bridgeton Landfill LLC’s initial statement on Sunday’s incident, including a message for the community:

“This morning, the Bridgeton Landfill LLC project team extinguished a small, surface fire located at the southern border of the Landfill, near the drainage ditch area. The surface fire is believed to be the result of a break in an air-line which allowed oxygen into a small area under the liner. It was quickly extinguished by the Landfill’s 24/7 on-site team.

There continues to be steam visible off-site emanating from the area where the surface fire burned part of the liner. The Landfill team is currently covering the burned liner with dirt, but steam may continue to be present and visible for the foreseeable future as a result of hot gas reaching cold air.

Emergency site and contractor teams are now responding to assist with repairs. During the repair process, some off-site odor may be detected while the damaged area of the liner is replaced. In addition, there was damage to the plastic conveyance lines, which allowed some leachate to be released. The leachate was captured and contained within lined ditches, and is being collected for treatment and safe disposal. The Landfill team will keep the community updated on repair work and anticipated completion, as well as continue to investigate the origin of the surface fire.

The Landfill team extends its appreciation to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Pattonville Fire Department, and Bridgeton Police Department for their prompt response and coordination this morning.”

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