This radiation warning sign is posted on the perimeter fence of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo. Credit Sarah Skiold-Hanlin, St. Louis Public Radio
By VÉRONIQUE LACAPRA, St. Louis Public Radio
On Friday morning, NPR reported that 13 employees at the only dedicated nuclear waste dump in the U.S. had inhaled radioactive material after a major accident earlier this month.
The incident happened at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. It’s designed to store radioactive material left over from nuclear bomb production during and after World War II. Radioactive material that dates that far back is frequently called “legacy nuclear waste.”
St. Louis has plenty of legacy nuclear waste of its own. Some of it is in Bridgeton, at what’s known as the West Lake Landfill. In the adjacent Bridgeton Landfill, an underground fire has been smoldering for more than three years.
The situation has caused a lot of fear and confusion. St. Louis Public Radio has started this FAQ to help answer some of your questions. We’ll add to it, based on your input. For now, you can use the comment field below, but we’ll be reaching out to you in other ways, too.