Hoses and pipes cover the 32-acre landfill cap in the south quarry, part of the $10 million system Republic Services built to collect leachate and gas and treat both for odor and hazardous substances. photo by Jacob Barker
It’s time for state and federal officials and privately ownedRepublic Services to stop giving residents in the West Lake and Bridgeton landfill areas the runaround.
And it’s way past time for Gov. Jay Nixon to stop muzzling his employees and contractors — who are paid with public dollars — so they can reassure the public about health concerns related to the landfills.
In the latest we’ve-got-a-secret episode, a report by a consultant for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources says that a fire smoldering beneath the surface of the Bridgeton Landfill is expanding and moving closer to radioactive waste in the adjacent West Lake Landfill.
This report runs precisely counter to recent assurances from Republic Services, which owns and operates the landfills, that the smoldering landfill is at “a managed state.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency backs Republic’s view. Karl Brooks, director of the EPA’s Region 7 office, said Monday that his agency has no evidence from monitoring data that the fire is moving in the direction that the consultant’s report concludes it is moving.
So the state consultant sees a problem where Republic and the EPA don’t. Who’s right? Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.
Part of the problem is that scientists and science-crats are experts in obfuscation. For example, they don’t call what’s happening at the Bridgeton Landfill an underground fire. It would be a fire if it were exposed to oxygen, but since it’s not, they call it an “SSE” — “subsurface smoldering event.”
Someone who can speak plain English needs to get involved.
The state’s consultant, Todd Thalhamer, issues periodic reports about the landfill. Since he does not have a vested financial interest in the sites, and isn’t an elected or appointed official, he appears to be an ideal source to shed much-needed light on what is going on beneath the ground at the landfills.
Unfortunately, his contract with Mr. Nixon’s Department of Natural Resources specifically forbids him from talking to reporters. Too bad the fire — excuse us, the smoldering event — isn’t as carefully controlled as the information flow.
The Post-Dispatch’s Jacob Barker and Blythe Bernhard wrote about Mr. Thalhamer’s report last week, noting that it contains the only data that counter Republic’s optimistic views.
It’s difficult for non-scientists to sort through the conflicting data. They can’t know whether there is anything to fear from the fire at the site, or if there are dangerous levels of cancer-causing compounds, or what happens if the fire migrates into areas where radioactive waste was buried long ago.
The public has a right to straight answers from an independent source. That’s partly what regulatory agencies are supposed to do. When they operate unshackled, they can answer questions, reassure people that all is well (or not) and occupy the space between competing financial interests. Mr. Nixon should let the DNR’s expert speak.
And then there’s the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t plan to build a barrier between the adjacent landfills. Mr. Brooks wrote in a commentary for the Post-Dispatch in February that the barrier’s design was nearly complete and that “construction should begin soon.”
Later, the EPA announced work would begin in June. It didn’t. It hasn’t begun in September. In fact, it won’t begin for at least 18 months.
Mr. Brooks says his comment was referring to “pre-construction” activities, such as air monitoring. He also said his agency has now met with Federal Aviation Administration officials and Lambert Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, who are concerned about the potential for disruption in air safety. If you dig up buried waste, birds could see a smorgasbord, and the landfills lie on the western approach to the airport.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigated the site and published a report on it in 1977. The EPA designated it a Superfund site in 1990, making it eligible for special federal funding to clean up the nation’s most hazardous waste sites. Twenty-four years later, new agencies are being brought into the discussion, and the future is as hazy as ever. When will the public get some straight answers?
BRIDGETON, Mo. – A new report suggests an underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill may be moving closer to nuclear waste buried nearby.
The information comes just days after it was announced construction on a barrier between the fire and the waste will be delayed 18 months.
The South Quarry of the Bridgeton Landfill has been smoldering underground for three years. There are a number of devices called gas interceptor wells that are designed to keep the smoldering from moving north and reaching the radioactive waste buried at the West Lake Landfill.
Renowned landfill consultant Todd Thalhamer says those well may have failed.
Thalhammer’s report to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources points out a number of devices at the border of the South Quarry show elevated temperatures, carbon monoxide and hydrogen levels. Those are all signs of fire.
However, Thalhamer also points out that a number of the devices in the area are either not working, or their data isn’t being collected.
He says, based on the trends, the smoldering event is at or just past the gas interceptor well system.
Russ Knocke, senior spokesman for Republic Services, issued this statement in response to the report:
“Yet again, Mr. Thalhamer is using limited data to manufacture an argument which the totality of data refutes He ignores the lack of settlement and absence of carbon monoxide in the North Quarry.Both are scientific indicators of the reaction’s location and movement. All data continues to confirm that the reaction is in the South Quarry, moving away from the adjacent West Lake Landfill and the neck in-between the two sites.”
Thalhamer is calling for more tests to determine exactly how far the fire is from the radioactive material.
Representative Bill Otto passed this info on to us via email earlier. Pay close attention to these things that Todd Thalhamer, Nationally Recognized Fire Expert for Mo DNR states in his recent report:
“Overall the TMPs appear to be indicating the heating event and the smoldering event continues to move towards the surface. One can also take the approach that the waste mass is settling into the reaction zone below ground, either way the smoldering event can surface through the waste or the waste can collapse downwards or be consumed by the smoldering event.”
For over three years now, TIME ….has been ticking! TIME…is what Republic Services, and the EPA have had to find a safe and responsible resolution to protect the people and the environment of this CommUnity!!
Landfill experts, Fire experts, and many competent people have insisted that TIME was a huge factor in finding the most successful way to prevent an event of such unknown magnitude.
The TIME is NOW! Every minute, of every day for this CommUnity…..
IT IS TIME, TIME to REMOVE the WASTE or…REMOVE the PEOPLE!
We (the Moms) have listened to your requests for an odor survey! We encourage everyone to fill out this short 9 question survey and share it with your friends, family and others. We will also provide printed copies at our meetings or we can email them to you. Please message an admin with any questions, concerns, or requests for printed copies. Thank you!
Last night Attorney General Chris Koster and his entire litigation team came to St. Louis for an open, honest, and informal meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to address this communities ongoing concerns about the landfill.
Attending the meeting last night on behalf of the community were, the “moms”, two residents of Spanish Village, Superintendent of Pattonville School District Dr. Mike Fulton, Bridgeton Council Ferd Fetch, State Rep Bill Otto, Gale Thackery with the Fransican Sisters, and the CAG technical advisor. Four of those mentioned above also work within two miles of the landfill.
The Attorney General and his team spent 2 hours discussing the critical issues that have developed over the past several months. It has never been more apparent to us moms that this CommUnity is in a very vulnerable situation due to the complexity of what is occurring at this landfill.
While this is very complex and scary for all of us, we finally feel like we have someone fighting for our health and well being. For so long we felt this CommUnity was on its own.
Last night the Attorney General and his legal team gave us a gift of hope and strength.
We understand more than ever that we have a huge fight ahead of us, but we also know we all have an incredible wall of support in place from:
Your Pattonville Fire District First Responders
Your Superintendent of Pattonville School District
Your local SSM Depaul Health System
Your Federal, State, and Local Representatives
We also have the support of Local and National Labor and
We are showered with prayer from head to toe from our Franciscan Sisters of Mary along with many other Sisters across the Nation.
It is now more important than ever that you attend the next CommUnity meeting on September 18th. We will be talking in more detail about the things that were discussed along with other important information you need to hear.
We will focus on making decisions and goals with all of YOUR help. We NEED you there!!!!!
We are very grateful, and thankful to have Attorney General Chris Koster. Him and his team are spending NUMEROUS hours and are working “boots on the ground” doing what they can to assure this CommUnity is protected.
Please let him know how much we appreciate his work, and commitment, as well as his compassion he showed our group last night.
After serious consideration and in light of the tragic events occurring in St. Louis this week, the event “West Lake Landfill & Love Canal with Lois Gibbs” originally scheduled for Saturday, August 16th, is postponed.
A new date and time will be shared with you as soon as possible.
We regret any inconvenience this causes and will be in touch as soon as a new date is selected.
You can check www.moenviron.org and the West Lake Landfill Facebook page for updates.
We are committed to raising awareness of the health and safety risks of the radioactive wastes and smoldering fire at the West Lake Landfill and appreciate your continued interest and support.
Just Mom’s STL
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Franciscan Sisters of Mary
State Rep. Bill Otto
Missouri Coalition for the Environment
Link to CAG Monthly Public Meeting: http://youtu.be/SIM30TNJbGk
I have had a lot of people ask about BMAC results. I have read through the whole thing (253 pgs) and this is what I would say to you all….. that the best summary to read is on page 9.
You will see Table 4-BMAC Analytical Data Comparison. The first two rows are a low column and a high column. Look below that at the column that says BTV-Background Threshold Value.
That column will tell you how many samples they found on the BMAC ball field that are above background! For U238 they found 5 out of 88 samples. For Thorium 230 they also found 5 out of 88 samples. Ra 226 was 1 out of 88 samples. Lead 210 is 9 out of 88 samples.
In the case of Lead 210, the EPA results show the SAME level of Lead 210 that our samples showed back in June when we reported them to EPA!
If you have been to all the meetings, then you understand that one of the things we have been talking about is that area where there are radioisotopes present above background, but below remediation levels.
I know its very frustrating and a lot of you have asked “what is safe?” I think the better question is ” at what level is there a risk to human health?” The answer is the higher the level, the more exposure, the greater the risk! And yes, we are exposed to natural radiation everyday…through the sun et….we all know this.
But as parents, we get to decide how many hours our children can play in the sun, and what if any level of sunscreen to put on them. This situation with these BMAC results is not any different.
The purpose of this page and group is to provide FACTS so that you can make your own decisions. Hopefully this post helps you do that. If you have any questions please feel free to message one of us and we will do our best to help you find the answers and provide the documents you need.
Dawn – Just Mom’s STL
Link for Video: