Bridgeton Landfill
4:24 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

State Posts More Air Sampling Results From The Bridgeton Landfill But Still Won't Discuss Them

An underground fire has been smoldering underground at the Bridgeton Landfill for almost two and half years.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:02 p.m. May 10 to reflect missing data has now been posted.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has released more air sampling results for the Bridgeton Landfill.

According to a written summary on the DNR's website, the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services analyzed the data collected from mid-March through April 23 and found unhealthy levels of sulfur dioxide at two sites near the landfill.

The state says people nearby could have experienced eye, nose and throat irritation or a cough, but that levels were not high enough to cause more serious effects.

Ed Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment says the DNR needs to do more than just post air sampling results on its website.

“There has been no large public meeting, this year, or ever, to discuss what's going on at that landfill. There's a lot of people wondering what they're breathing. The air data has not all been made public, and there's just a lot of concern.”

The DNR began sampling for toxic emissions at the landfill in February. It has posted most of the results, but data from the last two weeks of March are missing. That’s the same period when those unhealthy levels of sulfur dioxide were measured.

(Update: as of the afternoon of May 10, the DNR has posted the additional data from those two weeks).

The state recently intensified its air sampling efforts at the landfill to include daily measurements of benzene and hydrogen sulfide.

The DNR has repeatedly refused our requests to discuss the data. Today, the spokesperson for the agency, Renee Bungart, referred us instead to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney General Chris Koster sued the owner of the Bridgeton Landfill, Republic Services, in late March, alleging numerous environmental violations.

Koster’s press secretary, Nanci Gonder, said in an e-mail today that she would follow up with technical experts at DNR to get answers to our questions about the air sampling data.

When asked whether she could confirm that the Attorney General would be announcing a settlement agreement with Republic Services next Tuesday, Gonder said her office was “tentatively planning a news conference” for that date.

Waste has been burning underground  at the Bridgeton Landfill since late 2010, releasing toxic fumes and producing a foul odor that area residents say they can sometimes smell several miles away.

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience