What on Earth is Going on at West Lake Landfill?
When odors from the neighboring Bridgeton Landfill became so intense, residents began making calls. What they unearthed was shocking! They learned that the adjacent West Lake Landfill houses massive amounts of illegally dumped nuclear weapons waste from the Manhattan Project, the U.S. – the secret U.S. military program created in 1942 to develop the atomic bomb.
West Lake Landfill contains some of the world’s most toxic radionuclides, harmful in even microscopic amounts. These include Thorium-230, Radium-223, Uranium-235, Protactinium-231, Actinium-227, and Lead-210, some that will remain active for hundreds to thousands of years!
West Lake Landfill is not designed to safely house nuclear waste. It is unlined, in a floodplain, vulnerable to tornadoes and earthquakes, susceptible to fires, and close to heavily populated areas. The radioactive wastes are located on the surface of the landfill, not buried deep. The radioactive particles can migrate offsite via dust, smoke in the event of a surface fire, and through groundwater run-off. The landfill sits precariously just 1-1/2 miles from the Missouri River which eventually dumps into the Mississippi River.
And to make matters worse, there is currently a huge subsurface smoldering fire in the adjacent Bridgeton Landfill that is moving towards the nuclear waste in the West Lake Landfill! Never before has there been a situation like this. Experts are unsure what exactly will happen when the fire reaches the nuclear waste. Some predict a catastrophic event with the fire reaching the nuclear waste and producing smoke laced with nuclear particles that could spread across the region.
Watch this video to better understand the gravity of the situation at West Lake Landfill.
Even though West Lake Landfill was put on the National Priorities List and designated as a Superfund site on August 30, 1990 under the supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nothing yet has been done to remedy the situation. The best chance of cleanup would be by Congress voting to turn the responsibility of West Lake Landfill’s nuclear weapons waste over the the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ FUSRAP program.
Missouri Attorney General, Chris Koster, filed a lawsuit against Republic Services in March 2013 based on violations of eight Missouri environmental laws. It sought orders requiring it to extinguish the smoldering fire deep within the landfill and take action to control odors, emissions and hazardous liquid releases caused by the fire. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch article reports that, “Koster’s office says that Pelopidas, which Republic Services says it used to manage public relations,
“has ‘admissions’ by Republic employees or contractors that the smoldering fire “will indeed reach the radiologically impacted materials at one or both of the landfills.”
Homeowners and business owners feel betrayed that they were not made aware of this situation by government and city officials, or by the landfill owners – Republic Services. Their health is in jeopardy and their property values are at risk. And the uncertainty of it all is exhausting. The release of an Emergency Evacuation Plan by St. Louis County created even more anxiety among area residents and workers.
Perhaps Steve Johnson of Teamsters Local 688 in St. Louis, expresses it best:
“We demand that Republic Services and its biggest shareholder, billionaire Bill Gates, be held accountable. Instead of paying lobbyists to keep us trapped, we ask that Republic Services become part of the solution. We demand that our government put its full weight behind our communities—its constituents—and ask that the United Nations monitor a successful resolution to this environmental and social crisis.”
Please join Just Moms STL in our mission to obtain a “safe and permanent solution” for this serious issue. Read through the pages on this site to learn more. Visit the How to Help pages. This truly affects us all.
EPA Announces Radioactive Material Has Been Found in Unexpected Places at the Landfill
by The Associated Press
March 24, 2016
TRIAL DELAYED IN KOSTER LAWSUIT OVER BRIDGETON LANDFILL
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
March 4, 2016
“Koster’s office says that Pelopidas, which Republic Services says it used to manage public relations, has “admissions” by Republic employees or contractors that the smoldering fire “will indeed reach the radiologically impacted materials at one or both of the landfills.”
The next step in the fight is for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the companion bill introduced by Congressman Lacy Clay and Congresswoman Ann Wagner.
Legislation: H.R.4100 – To require the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Chief of Engineers, to undertake remediation oversight of the West Lake Landfill located in Bridgeton, Missouri.