The company that owns the Bridgeton Landfill is gearing up for the next phase of an effort to control an underground fire that has been burning at the site for more than two years.
According to a letter from company official Tim Trost, the work could significantly increase odors in the neighborhoods around the landfill.
Maryland Heights resident Dawn Chapman says she doesn't think the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is doing enough to monitor the potentially toxic landfill fumes.
"And frankly, we would like to know, if they do reach a level where it's hazardous or it's unsafe, what's going to happen?” Chapman asks. “Is somebody going to come and knock on our door? Am I going to get an automated phone call? You know, we want to know that that's all in place and ready to go."
The MDNR did not respond to a request for comment.
Republic Services says the removal of the pipes is needed to address safety concerns and will help to reduce odors in the future.
Chapman lives more than three miles away from the Bridgeton Landfill, but she says she can smell it in her house sometimes. And she’s worried about her family’s health.
“They’re saying that asthmatics, and children who are very sensitive, as well as adults and the elderly, should not be out and should avoid the odor,” Chapman says.
But Chapman says that’s hard for many area residents to do, and she and others have been trying to come up with options.
She says the Edward Jones Family YMCA in Maryland Heights recently offered to open its lobby to people needing to get away from the landfill fumes. And Chapman is looking for other businesses or individuals willing to do the same.
If you’d like to get in touch with Chapman, you can contact her on the West Lake Landfill Facebook group webpage.
Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience