St. Louis Post-Dispatch
by Blythe Bernhard
Last May, Kathy Bell and her husband took advantage of an offer to stay in a hotel for a few weeks to avoid odors from work being done on the Bridgeton Landfill. The day they got back, she said the stench was worse than before and had seeped inside their house in the Spanish Village neighborhood.
“It was the first time we had ever smelled it inside, and this was after the fix,” Bell said. “It’s totally changed our quality of life.”
An underground fire has been smoldering at the Bridgeton Landfill for more than three years. The fire has stirred up noxious odors as well as concerns about the proximity of radioactive waste dumped at the adjacent West Lake Landfill. A year ago, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster sued the landfills’ owner, Republic Services, for environmental violations. Under a court injunction, Republic Services agreed to place a plastic cap on part of the landfill by Labor Day 2013 to help lessen the odors and tamp down the fire.
Nearby residents and workers say that after an initial improvement last fall, the smell got progressively worse during the winter. There have been no more offers of free hotel stays. The attorney general’s office has not imposed any fines against Republic Services, although an agreement allows for $10,000 a day if odor deadlines are not met. Residents think their only recourse is an odor complaint log maintained by the state Department of Natural Resources.