Attorney General Chris Koster has asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency to conduct radioactivity tests at the West Lake landfill in Bridgeton that were delayed because of the government shutdown.
The tests are required before a barrier can be constructed between West Lake and the nearby Bridgeton landfill, where a subsurface fire has been burning for several years. The company that owns the Bridgeton landfill would perform the test, which would be overseen by the EPA. But the agency determined that oversight was not an essential function and therefore would not be performed during the shutdown.
In a letter sent to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy today, Koster urged the federal government to reverse its decision, citing the approaching winter:
"The sooner work can begin on this essential safeguard, the better protected the public will be.
Timing is crucial. Currently, weather conditions are ideal for work in the field, but in a few shorts weeks, cold winter weather may force outdoor work to be suspended until the spring. As a result, every day lost impedes not only the testing at the Westlake Landfill but also the construction of the isolation barrier itself."