Kevin Killeen (@KilleenKMOX)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The Pattonville Fire Protection District is keeping a close eye on the Bridgeton Landfill, after new data shows the underground fire may be getting closer to nuclear material buried in the nearby Westlake Landfill.

“This thing is going to continue to consume fuel and it is going to seek its source of fuel,” says Assistant Chief Matt LaVanchy . “And there is an abundance of it in the north quarry towards the waste and radioactive material.”

LaVanchy says the underground fire may now be just 1,000 feet from the radioactive material, compared to 1,200 feet a couple years ago. The good news, he says, efforts by the landfill owner to stop the fire have slowed it down.

“If it continues to progress at the rate that it has been progressing, then yes we have years,” LaVanchy says. “But if we go back to the consumption rate that it was three or four years ago where it was moving three feet a month, you know that shortens that time period considerably.”

The nightmare scenario LaVanchy hopes to avoid is the eventual outbreak of a surface fire that has made contact with radioactive waste. That, he says, would be an environmental disaster for the region.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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