BRIDGETON, MO–(KMOX)–The EPA lays out its plans for testing little league ball fields for possible radioactive contamination from the nearby West Lake Landfill.
EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks says his team will test for gamma radiation starting May 19th from “fence to fence” within the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex.
The tests were prompted by dirt sampling done by a citizens group, which claimed to find some possible “hot spots” on ball field number four and in a drainage ditch by the racquetball court.
Brooks dismissed those amature tests as “unscientific and unreliable,” and indicated that all past tests of the ball fields have indicated they are safe.
Neighborhood activist Dawn Chapman applauded the EPA’s plans to test the ball fields , noting that it was on ball field number four “between third base and home” where her group found one dirt sample with radiation levels “above background.”
But Chapman criticized the Brooks for not planning to include the drainage ditches in the testing. She claims that on a typical little league day many young children who are not on a team wander away from the bleachers to play in the drainage ditches, and she says one BMAC team even “posed for pictures” in a drainage ditch.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster recently sent a letter to Brooks urging him to test the ball fields and the “haul roads” around the West Lake Landfill — or face court action by Koster. Brooks told reporters Friday he has no plans to do tests for radiation on the haul roads.
Koster was not available Friday for comment on Brook’s decision.
The EPA testing is scheduled to take about a week at least, and possibly longer, Brooks said, if initial tests find any readings that warrant followup field testing.
In the meantime, Bridgeton Mayor Conrad Bowers defended his decision to keep the ball fields open, saying he’s confident they are safe, based on past testing.