ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The federal EPA announces a proposed “final remedy” for the contaminated waste at West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton.
The EPA took a look at the scenario and is advocating what it calls “excavation plus,” which means getting rid of about 70 percent of the radioactive waste at the site and installing an engineered cover system.
The process would take about five years.
Local watchdog groups sought a little more than that, and the landfill’s operator was pushing for just a “capping.”
Dawn Chapman and Karen Nickel of the Just Moms STL advocacy group say at first, the group was worried a partial removal would mean only 5 percent removed.
With a 70 percent or more removal — they are pleased.
“I can tell you that we are happy with this decision, and what this does for us is it gives us direction,” Nickel says. “We’ve gone without a decision at the site for 10 years, and it’s time that we have direction.”
But they know there’s still work to do.
“This is not time for us to sit back and say ‘oh, OK everything’s great now,’ because we still have work to do,” Nickel adds.
The Missouri Coalition for the Environment is speaking out against the EPA’s proposed remedy for West Lake Landfill’s contamination problems:
“Partial removal is not acceptable. It means high levels of radioactivity will be left behind with the potential for water or airborne contamination into the future, creating unnecessary long-term risks to the St. Louis region,” said Ed Smith, Policy Director with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “People throughout St. Louis need to rise up and flood the EPA with public comments for full removal and offsite disposal unless they want to continue living alongside this radioactive threat.”
As is St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger:
Cost estimates ranged from about $75 million on the low end to nearly $700 million on the high end. The EPA’s proposal would be about $236 million.
It’s a proposal, so there’s nothing definite in the document released today.
Bridgeton Landfill, LLC, a subsidiary of Republic Services, Inc., released a statement saying it is “pleased that the EPA has finally ended decades of study and again is issuing a proposed plan for the site.”
The statement continues:
“From here, we will participate fully during the EPA’s comment period, as well as engage vigorously with the EPA and the other PRPs to ensure that the final remedy performed is based on science, and is fully protective of human health, including onsite workers performing any remedy, the community, and the environment. The path to beginning implementation of the final Record of Decision (ROD) could take years.”
Looks like today will be the day the federal EPA formally announces plans for the West Lake landfill.
Dawn Chapman of the environmental watchdog group “Just Moms STL” posted on social media that the EPA confirms it will announce a decision on cleanup at the landfill, something her group has been advocating since about 2013.
The Post-Dispatch reports the EPA will pursue a “partial excavation” of waste linked to the Manhattan Project.
It cites information from EPA director Scott Pruitt and calls the decision somewhere between what most-vocal community members wanted and what industrial interests are.
The five-year project is anticipated to include an engineered cover system for long-term protection.