By JIM SALTER - Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) – The operator of a suburban St. Louis landfill where an underground fire is producing a strong odor has reached a settlement in federal lawsuits filed by nearly three dozen nearby residents.

Bridgeton Landfill LLC announced the settlement Friday. Lawsuits filed by 34 residents claimed that they could not enjoy their own properties because of the often-horrific smell emanating from the landfill.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The landfill’s parent company, Republic Services, said it has spent more than $200 million to abate the smell and to ensure that the fire doesn’t spread.

The fire is particularly concerning because the adjacent West Lake Landfill, also owned by Republic Services, houses Cold War-era nuclear waste that was illegally buried there four decades ago. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce by the end of the year a remediation plan for the nuclear waste.

A statement from Bridgeton Landfill said it has installed capping and gas collection improvements, added more than 40 gas wells, and taken other steps to eliminate the odor. The landfill cited data from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources showing that “odor occurrences” have been significantly reduced and air testing has found no risk to health or the environment.

“Still, we remain committed to working with the State to ensure responsible, long-term site management measures,” Bridgeton Landfill said in its statement.

Ed Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment said the settlement fell short.

“Anything short of a voluntary buyout for people living within one mile (1.6 kilometer) of the landfill is not good enough,” Smith said.

In a separate 2014 settlement, the landfill agreed to pay $6.8 million to residents in 400 homes close to the landfill. The homeowners involved in the latest settlement were not part of the earlier one.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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