Category Archives: Local News

Concerns, uncertainty continue to shroud West Lake cleanup, 09/04/2016

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
by Bryce Gray

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moves forward with a new study to address radioactive waste at West Lake Landfill, critics say the federal agency is not paying sufficient attention to groundwater as a potential pathway for contamination. They also doubt the EPA has a clear understanding of the extent of contamination, given its failure to conduct a grid survey of the site.

Those concerns, which were voiced at a recent EPA-hosted meeting in Bridgeton, underpin the growing frustration with the agency’s oversight of the matter — and the reason there are continuing calls for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to step in and assume control of the cleanup at the Superfund site in north St. Louis County. Continue reading Concerns, uncertainty continue to shroud West Lake cleanup, 09/04/2016

State wins approval to test groundwater near radioactive waste at West Lake Landfill, 08/25/2016

St. Louis Public Radio
by Eli Chen

A special master has allowed the state to proceed with groundwater testing at wells in the portion of the West Lake Landfill where World War II-era radioactive waste has been detected. The decision Wednesday in a circuit court of St. Louis County comes after landfill owner Republic Services tried to stop the testing from moving forward. The tests were scheduled to begin Aug. 22, but the work was delayed when Republic Services attorney Peter Daniel wrote Assistant Attorney General Thais Folta to inform her the company would not permit the sampling.

Daniel argued that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has no jurisdiction over the northern portion of the landfill. The Environmental Protection Agency presides over that section of the landfill, labeled as Operating Unit 1, which contains radioactive waste. The state only has jurisdiction over the southern portion, Operating Unit 2, where there is an underground smoldering fire. But the EPA did not object to MDNR’s plans to sample groundwater wells in Operating Unit 1. Daniel also said that the sampling is unnecessary, since the EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a groundwater evaluation in 2013. “There have been no further orders or requests from the U.S. EPA to sample those wells,” he wrote. In seeking permission to draw samples, Folta sought help from the special master, William Ray Price Jr., former chief judge of the Missouri Supreme Court. “A delay in testing may compromise the scientific value of the samples, not to mention waste resources already committed for sampling next week,” Folta wrote. “And it cannot be overemphasized that this is the only groundwater sampling that is occurring at the Bridgeton or West Lake landfills.” Price determined that the state agency should pay for the test, considering the “significant expense” the state is making to test the wells and the “likely usefulness of this additional data.” Continue reading State wins approval to test groundwater near radioactive waste at West Lake Landfill, 08/25/2016

Champ Landfill might be stinkier than Bridgeton Landfill, 08/19/2016

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
by Blythe Bernard

Something stinks in Bridgeton, but the source isn’t always obvious. Neighbors of the Bridgeton Landfill have complained of a foul stench since an underground fire started there in 2010. The Fred Weber asphalt plant in neighboring Maryland Heights also can give off a distinctive odor.

More recently, the Champ Landfill in the village of Champ has taken blame for the smells. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited the landfill between Bridgeton and Maryland Heights last week for its lack of odor control.

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District stopped taking raw sludge to the Champ Landfill in May, when the EPA’s inspections turned up odor violations at the landfill.

“When we pay to take product to a landfill, we count on (them) to manage it properly,” said Lance LeComb, a spokesman for the sewer district. “I’m not going to say ours is an odorless business, but others shouldn’t try to foist their problems on us because they’re trying to save money.” Continue reading Champ Landfill might be stinkier than Bridgeton Landfill, 08/19/2016

Residents demand that EPA fully remove radioactive waste from the West Lake Landfill, 08/15/2016

St. Louis Public Radio
by Eli Chen

Residents and local officials continued to press the Environmental Protection Agency for full removal of radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in Bridgeton at a meeting on Monday night.

Activist group Soul Much Water, who supports Just Moms STL, held a protest outside the Bridgeton Community Center on Monday evening.  CREDIT ELI CHEN

By December, the federal agency must decide between four possible remedies for handling the radioactive contamination. The EPA could take no action, cap the waste in place, partial remove it or completely do so.

At the meeting Monday, agency officials discussed partial or full removal with members of the community. In June, the EPA released a 2013 report conducted by the National Remedy Review Board, in which officials from the agency said that removal of the waste is “feasible.” Continue reading Residents demand that EPA fully remove radioactive waste from the West Lake Landfill, 08/15/2016

New Report shows EPA’s own experts disagree on Region 7 assessment of wastes and solution at West Lake Landfill, 07/22/2016

by Just Moms STL

New Report shows EPA’s own experts disagree on Region 7 assessment of wastes and solution at West Lake Landfill.A new report released by Bob Alvarez and Lucas Hixson draws conclusion from the newly released EPA National Remedy and Review Board critique as well as documents and emails discussing the 2008 decision to cap-and-leave the wastes at West Lake Landfill. This report is short and a must read for everyone. There are links to source documents at the end of the report.This report clearly describes the disastrous decisions being made by Region 7, despite EPA’s own top scientists. This, in fact, is why Missouri’s Federal Representatives and Senators all cast a vote of no confidence in EPA’s ability to successfully manage and remediate the atomic weapons waste at the landfill. Thus, prompting legislation this past fall to take control of the radioactive wastes away from EPA and give jurisdiction to the Army Corps of Engineers FUSRAP.

Based on the linked report, It sounds like EPA’s review board and top scientists have also cast their own vote of no confidence in Region 7. Continue reading New Report shows EPA’s own experts disagree on Region 7 assessment of wastes and solution at West Lake Landfill, 07/22/2016

Army Corps of Engineers is right choice to clean up landfill, 07/21/2016

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Letters to the Editor
by Karen Nickel

Wagner, Clay, testify on proposed shift of West Lake Landfill cleanup to Corps of Engineers
Reps. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, left, and William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, testify on July 13, 2016, on behalf of their leglsiation shifting cleanup responsibility at the West Lake Landfill from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Corps of Engineers. The appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on the environment and the economy. Photo supplied by Wagner’s office.

Regarding “Plan to shift West Lake cleanup to Corps hits roadblock” (July 14):

Last week, I traveled to Washington to observe Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, and Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, testify about the Environmental Protection Agency’s inaction on the West Lake Landfill, which is only about 10 minutes from my home. I personally saw their passion and frustration about the EPA’s sluggish work on the landfill.

I strongly support the bill they introduced in Congress (HR 4100) with Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, to put the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of the landfill cleanup. Unfortunately, several members of Congress and agency bureaucrats have argued that this bill would delay the cleanup and that we should just let the EPA do its job.

Try telling that to those of us who have waited 26 years for the EPA to do something about the landfill. We want the government to clean up the landfill and protect us. For this community, it is not about a quick solution; it’s about doing it right. The Army Corps of Engineers successfully remediated many sites in our region and is the best choice to keep us safe.

Karen Nickel  •  Maryland Heights

http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/mailbag/army-corps-of-engineers-is-right-choice-to-clean-up/article_5ddbbffb-bb08-5efb-9481-a998ffdfe76f.html

Editorial: Regulatory agencies treating West Lake Landfill like a hot potato, 07/14/2016

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
by Editorial Board

Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, pounded a witness table in frustration Wednesday over yet another obstacle to getting a federal cleanup of the nuclear waste at West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton. And she’s right. This is a table-pounding moment.

Wagner is upset because the Army Corps of Engineers and a key U.S. House energy panel oppose a proposal to shift oversight of the landfill from the Environmental Protection Agency to a special corps’ nuclear cleanup program.

She’s understandably distressed at the unwillingness of regulatory agencies to take responsibility for protecting residents from the potential harm and health hazards of toxic waste that has been buried at the site since 1973.

The dump has been a Superfund site on the EPA’s national priority list since 1990, but the agency never put forth a plan to remove the waste. It suggested capping the site and leaving the waste there in 2008, but that plan met resistance from environmentalists, area residents and some scientists who contend the waste is too dangerous.
Continue reading Editorial: Regulatory agencies treating West Lake Landfill like a hot potato, 07/14/2016

Bipartisan legislation needed to address radioactive landfill in St. Louis, 07/08/2016

The Hill
by Ed Smith

Wikipedia

The radioactive West Lake Landfill Superfund site in St. Louis County, Missouri, should have always been under the jurisdiction of the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP). FUSRAP is a nuclear waste cleanup program run by the Army Corps of Engineers for sites involved in early nuclear weapons production. The radioactive material in the landfill originated from uranium processing in St. Louis for the nuclear weapons program during World War II and the Cold War.

The legacy of this uranium production is scattered throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area in sites that are currently part of FUSRAP, except for the West Lake Landfill, which was inappropriately excluded from the cleanup list by the Department of Energy (DOE) in 1990. Continue reading Bipartisan legislation needed to address radioactive landfill in St. Louis, 07/08/2016

Messenger: Activist won’t back down in quest to rid St. Louis of nuclear waste, 06/17/16

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
by Tony Messenger

Kay Drey owes me a quarter.

Sitting across from me last week at her dining room table in University City, the 83-year-old environmentalist handed me a stack of documents and issued a challenge similar to one she’s made at that table to visitors like me countless times.

“If you actually read all the way through one of my documents, I’ll give you a quarter,” Drey said.

It’s a bit of self-effacing recognition that Drey is a stickler for details others find a bit dry.

We’re in her dining room to talk about West Lake Landfill and the nuclear waste that was dumped there illegally decades ago. The radioactive waste dates to the production of the first atomic bomb, a double-edged sword of a legacy for St. Louis. The city is proud of its efforts to end World War II but still dealing with the remnants of that effort in the next century. Continue reading Messenger: Activist won’t back down in quest to rid St. Louis of nuclear waste, 06/17/16

West Lake Landfill Critic “Livid” Over Just-Released EPA Study, 06/16/16

CBS St. Louis
by Brett Blume

On Wednesday, the National Remedy Review Board (NRRB) released findings that were critical of EPA Region 7’s decision to cap off the radioactive wastes, instead of moving ahead with efforts to remove the contaminants from the site.

“The National Remedy Review Board, in a very surprising revelation, also said that removal of at least some of the radioactive waste could be more cost-effective than just capping and leaving all of the radioactive waste,” pointed out Ed Smith, Policy Director with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

Smith said the MRRB also found that EPA Region 7 had underestimated the cost and risk of capping-and-leaving the contaminants in its 2008 Record of Decision. It said the available technology exists to safely remove radioactive wastes to limit long-term risks, and community concerns regarding impacts to groundwater are justified.> Continue reading West Lake Landfill Critic “Livid” Over Just-Released EPA Study, 06/16/16

EPA suppression of vital report reveals West Lake radwaste as ‘principal threat’, 06/16/16

The Examiner
by Byron DeLear

Karen Nickel of Just Moms STL. The EPA recently released a report which it had suppressed for more than three years. The report roundly criticised the agency's handling of the site and suggests removal of radwaste as a viable option.
Karen Nickel of Just Moms STL. The EPA recently released a report which it had suppressed for more than three years. The report roundly criticised the agency’s handling of the site and suggests removal of radwaste as a viable option.

In a shocking revelation concerning the ongoing saga of the radioactive West Lake Landfill, yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report it had suppressed for more than three years. In it, the National Remedy Review Board (NRRB), a peer-review group that oversees Superfund site clean-up plans, criticized the agency’s proposed 2008 decision to place a cap on top of the site and states in no uncertain terms that based on the data there is “accessible, highly toxic principal threat waste at this site.”

Document shows some EPA officials saw West Lake waste removal as ‘feasible’, 06/16/2016

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
by Jacob Barker

Radioactive sign at West Lake landfill in Bridegton- tight
Exterior shot showing a section of the West Lake landfill Tuesday March 13, 2012, in Bridgeton. The EPA is assessing whether to stick to a 2008 plan to leave tons of Cold War era radioactive waste buried at the West Lake landfill or shift plans and excavate it. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Removing the hottest radioactive waste within the West Lake Landfill is feasible and could reduce long-term risks from the Bridgeton-area landfill, an internal Environmental Protection Agency report says.

The report, released by the agency voluntarily Wednesday, bolsters the arguments of environmentalists in the region who have long advocated for removing the radioactive waste rather than simply capping the unlined landfill.

The EPA never moved forward with its 2008 proposal to cap the radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton. The agency has cited community backlash for the reconsideration, and additional West Lake studies over the last several years were prompted at least in part by an internal EPA peer-review group, known as the National Remedy Review Board.

The 9-page summary of the board’s findings, finalized in February 2013 and posted online Wednesday afternoon, outlines recommendations that influenced the EPA’s decision-making. Continue reading Document shows some EPA officials saw West Lake waste removal as ‘feasible’, 06/16/2016

Clay Pushes EPA, Army Corps Transfer for Westlake Landfill, 06/13/16

CBS – St. Louis

Missouri Congressman Lacy Clay is backing a plan to transfer the cleanup duties from the EPA to the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Representative Wagner and I are pushing for a hearing the in the House sometime soon,” Clay says. “The bill has come over from the Senate. There’s hesitation on the part of the Congressman from New Jersey.”

New Jersey Congressman Frank Palone reportedly fears the plan might take away money from Superfund sites in his state. Backers of the switch believe the Army Corps would be more apt to clean up the site than the EPA, which has been accused of “studying the landfill to death.
http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2016/06/13/clay-pushes-epa-army-corps-transfer-for-westlake-landfill/

SHAME OF THE CITIES, 05/27/2016

STL Reporter

Low Standards and Ethical Lapses Are Still the Rule More Than a Century After Muckraker Lincoln Steffens Exposed St. Louis’ Politically Corrupt Environment.Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 14.36.55

CITY COUNCIL – BRIDGETON CITY COUNCIL ON MAY 21, 2014
http://bridgetonmo.swagit.com/play/05232014-544

To understand how St. Louis County’s longstanding radioactive waste problem has been covered up, you need knowledge of the political landscape and those who inhabit it. The public often mistakenly identifies politicians exclusively as elected office holders, but it’s   the people working behind the scenes, –those holding obscure appointed positions — who make things happen — or not.

Take for example, zoning attorney John King. King, a private attorney, is the son of the late Bus King, St. Louis County Republican powerbroker. In 2014, John King of the Lathrop and Gage law firm appeared before Bridgeton City Council on behalf of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD). He was there to make sure that a right of way was approved for MSD’s leachate pipeline, a project shared by MSD and Republic Services, the owner of the West Lake Landfill, a Superfund site that includes a smolder underground fire, which is headed in the direction of illegally dumped radioactive waste. Continue reading SHAME OF THE CITIES, 05/27/2016

SHAME OF THE CITIES, 05/27/2016

STL Reporter

Low Standards and Ethical Lapses Are Still the Rule More Than a Century After Muckraker Lincoln Steffens Exposed St. Louis’ Politically Corrupt Environment.Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 14.36.55

http://bridgetonmo.swagit.com/play/05232014-544

To understand how St. Louis County’s longstanding radioactive waste problem has been covered up, you need knowledge of the political landscape and those who inhabit it. The public often mistakenly identifies politicians exclusively as elected office holders, but it’s   the people working behind the scenes, –those holding obscure appointed positions — who make things happen — or not.

Take for example, zoning attorney John King. King, a private attorney, is the son of the late Bus King, St. Louis County Republican powerbroker. In 2014, John King of the Lathrop and Gage law firm appeared before Bridgeton City Council on behalf of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD). He was there to make sure that a right of way was approved for MSD’s leachate pipeline, a project shared by MSD and Republic Services, the owner of the West Lake Landfill, a Superfund site that includes a smolder underground fire, which is headed in the direction of illegally dumped radioactive waste. Continue reading SHAME OF THE CITIES, 05/27/2016