BRIDGETON, Mo. (KMOX) – Environmental testing delayed by the government shutdown is now back on track in Bridgeton.

Republic Services, owner of the Bridgeton Landfill, where an underground fire has been burning for two years, is preparing to build a firebreak trench to separate the fire from nearby nuclear waste at the West Lake Landfill.

Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Chris Whitley says starting next week, EPA workers will survey the site for possible radiation before the dig.

“As crews get in there to do any actual construction and they’re disturbing the surface, we want to make sure that we’re aware of the level of radiation that might be present in any material that they would encounter,” Whitley said.

The digging of the trench is expected to last into the winter months. Activists who want the West Lake radiation removed entirely have criticized the plan as short-sighted.

Whitley says EPA plans also call for minimizing the upheaval of garbage which might attract birds so they don’t send flocks across Lambert Airport, posing a danger to aircraft.

“Anytime that you would do excavation at a landfill there’s the potential of attracting birds so the approach would be to try to minimize the exposure of that material as much as possible while still getting the work done,” he added.


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