Updated at 4:30 p.m.
Missouri's Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a lawsuit in response to the ongoing concerns surrounding the Bridgeton Landfill.
Last week, Missouri's Department of Natural Resources sent a letter to Koster's office asking the AG to "institute appropriate legal action to resolve any past, present or future environmental violations" at the landfill.
Koster's suit filed against Republic Services, Inc., the owners of the landfill, alleges that the company has violated "a number of Missouri's environmental laws" at the site. The suit potentially seeks tens of millions of dollars in civil penalties.
(Read the full lawsuit document below)
A fire has been smoldering underground at the landfill since late 2010. Koster says the fire intensified in January, releasing foul-smelling fumes. He calls the situation "distressing and terrible" for area residents.
"My goal with regards to this lawsuit is to make sure that the most aggressive and best testing is taking place, that Republic, and not the state of Missouri, is paying for it, and that a level of transparency and judicial oversight is now going to overtake this process that has not occurred so far," Koster said.
Along with gas emissions, the suit also targets wastewater from the landfill, known as leachate, that Koster says has contaminated adjacent land and groundwater.
“There’s about 150,000 gallons a day of this leachate that is being created at the bottom of the pit," Koster said. "It is being stored in essentially a tank farm on site, that raises a number of questions that I think deserve additional exploration."
The lawsuit demands that Republic Services take steps to eliminate air and water pollution from the landfill and to put out the fire. It also puts the company on the hook to pay for environmental testing and clean-up.
The 8 counts outlined by Koster in the suit are in the following areas:
- Causing a public nuisance
- Burning solid waste at a sanitary landfill
- Causing odor pollution
- Exceeding methane gas limits
- Causing pollution of waters of the state
- Improperly handling hazardous waste
- Storing solid waste in a manner that violates the law, creates a public nuisance, and adversely affects public health
- Natural resources damages & cost recovery
Republic Services issued a statement regarding the lawsuit, saying the company "shares the same goal" with Koster:
We have already started the process of working with the Attorney General as we share the same goal – to dramatically reduce the odor from the landfill while protecting nearby residents and employees and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations.