Breaking it down: Renewed concerns over radiation at Bridgeton landfills

Sep 17, 2015

On Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” host Don Marsh brought together several different parties to talk about ongoing community concerns over radioactive contamination at the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills. He was joined by: 

  • Véronique LaCapra - St. Louis Public Radio’s science reporter. She has reported extensively on the situation at both landfills

  • Dawn Chapman - Citizen activist

  • Mike Petersen – Chief of Public Affairs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

  • Henry Royal, M.D. – Professor of Radiology and Associate Director, Division of Nuclear Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine

  • Maria Chappelle-Nadal – Missouri Senator for the 14th district, who has spoken out about contamination at the landfills. On the show, she announced her resignation from the University City School Board in order to focus on the situation at the Bridgeton landfills. 

  • Russ Knocke - Director of Field Communications & Public Affairs at Republic Services

Listen to the discussion right here:

On the show, while talking about radioactive contamination in the area, Maria Chappelle-Nadal announced her resignation from the University City School Board to focus on the situation. “While I have totally enjoyed serving the people of University City on the school board, and you all know how important education is, I also believe that the livelihood of every St. Louisan is equally important and that’s where I want to put my time,” Chappelle-Nadal said.

Earlier this month, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster released reports that radiation from the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton has spread to neighboring properties. The reports also suggested that an underground fire at the neighboring Bridgeton Landfill is moving toward radioactive waste and could reach it as soon three to six months. The landfills’ owner, Republic Services, has vehemently maintained that the situation at the landfills is under control.

“The fact is that the EPA, the DHSS and a number of experts ranging from air or water or land continue to state that the site is safe and nothing rises to the level of a public health concern,” Knocke said.

It should be noted that Attorney General Koster, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency declined to participate in the discussion.

The concern in the surrounding communities persists.

“There are no studies out there that show chronic, low-level exposure to radiation,” said Chapman.  “They don’t exist. That’s what we’re talking about here, we’re not talking about the fire hitting the waste and making these particles airborne and you going to Target and getting a mouthful. We’re talking, you have a community living on top of this, you have 92 homes, them breathing it in for the next five years when they go out to play.”

On Thursday, at 6:30 p.m. at 12567 Natural Bridge Rd., a town hall meeting will be held to address community members’ concerns.

"St. Louis on the Air" discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter and join the conversation at @STLonAir.