West Lake landfill

Legacy nuclear waste at the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton was thought to be contained behind this fence, but a new study has detected radiation in trees offsite.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:20 p.m., Sept. 3 with additional comments — Radiation from the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton has spread to neighboring properties. That's according to reports released on Thursday by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. The reports also suggest the underground fire at the neighboring Bridgeton Landfill is moving in the direction of the radioactive waste.

Landfill owner Republic Services maintains that the situation is under control and that the subsurface chemical reaction is headed south, away from the known area of nuclear contamination.

This graph from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' letter to Republic Services shows gradually rising temperatures in the neck of the Bridgeton Landfill.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Missouri environmental officials are ordering the owner of a landfill in Bridgeton do more to prevent a smoldering subsurface fire there from spreading. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources wants to keep the underground reaction from coming into contact with radioactive waste stored nearby.

But Republic Services, the owner, insists the situation at the Bridgeton Landfill is under control.

Alex Heuer

During World War II, a St. Louis-based company took on a project that turned out to be detrimental to the health of its employees.

Mallinckrodt Chemical Company was responsible for refining massive amounts of uranium for the Manhattan Project. As a result, some of Mallinckrodt’s employees succumbed to various illnesses caused by exposure to nuclear waste.

EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks fields questions from the public at a press conference in Bridgeton in May 2014.
Credit Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The man who has been overseeing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's work in Missouri is moving on to join the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Here, Karl Brooks reflects on some of St. Louis' biggest issues, including West Lake Landfill.

Flares at the Bridgeton Landfill are used to burn off smelly underground gases.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The Saint Louis County Department of Health is launching a survey to assess the health of people living near the Bridgeton Landfill.

An underground fire has been smoldering at the Bridgeton Landfill since 2010, causing odors emanating from the landfill to increase.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum welcomed St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page to Politically Speaking. 

A view of the Bridgeton Landfill, taken in the fall of 2014.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The underground fire at the West Lake Landfill Superfund Site does not produce air pollution that exceeds hazardous standards, the regional head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday.  

“The air around the West Lake Landfill site in north St. Louis resembles the air elsewhere in metro St. Louis. There’s nothing distinctive,” said Karl Brooks, who leads EPA’s Region 7 from his office in Kansas City.

These photos show the two-page order related to the Bridgeton Landfill, filed Friday in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
Provided by Republic Services and the Missouri Attorney General's Office

Updated Jan. 9 to add Republic Services' filings and Circuit Court order

Following a long afternoon of negotiations, Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services has agreed to install two temperature monitoring probes in the landfill's north quarry, near radioactive waste at the adjacent West Lake Landfill.

Republic Services spent $55 million to build this leachate pretreatment plant at the Bridgeton Landfill, in order to bring the wastewater into compliance with its disposal permit from the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services is building a pipeline to carry wastewater from inside the landfill to a sewer line leading to the Bissell Point sewage treatment plant in north St. Louis.

The 7.5-mile-long pipeline will run along St. Charles Rock Road just south of  Lambert-St. Louis International airport, through St. Ann and several other north St. Louis County communities.

That has some area residents worried about the potential for toxic contamination.

This figure from the USGS West Lake Landfill groundwater report shows levels of radium in groundwater wells under and around the landfill. Red, orange, and yellow dots show radium contamination above the federal safe drinking water standard.
U.S. Geological Survey

Updated 12/18/14:

Groundwater under the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton is contaminated with unhealthy levels of radium.

That’s according to a U.S. Geological Survey report, released on Wednesday by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

On this map, the location of the new temperature monitoring probes that Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources wants Republic Services to install is marked with a purple line.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Updated 10/17/14: Republic Services has confirmed that it agreed on Thursday, in writing, to comply with all of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' requirements ― although the company remains committed to its position that the additional measures are not needed.

Our original story:

Lois Gibbs holds her daughter Missy stands outside her Love Canal home in Niagara Falls, N.Y., in 1978.
Courtesy of Lois Gibbs

Environmental activist Lois Gibbs will be in St. Louis this weekend for a “teach-in” to address problems at the adjoining Bridgeton and West Lake landfills, located in Bridgeton a few miles from Lambert Airport.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Quite a bit of information has come out over the past month about the West Lake and Bridgeton Landfills ― some of it contradictory and confusing.

So when EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks offered up an interview ― about something else ― I took advantage of my time with him to try to clear up some of that confusion.

We talked about the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill; about the firebreak that’s supposed to keep it from reaching the radioactive waste at the adjacent West Lake Landfill; and about groundwater contamination in Bridgeton.

Map of the West Lake Landfill
EPA | 2013 report

At the behest of the man who had filed the suit, a U.S. District Court has dismissed a suit that had alleged the radiation from the West Lake Landfill had spread into surrounding neighborhoods.

The dismissal had been requested by the lawyer for John James, who lived in a subdivision near the landfill, which is near Bridgeton. The lawyer has said that test results failed to show enough radiation to meet the federal standard for damages.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated at 5:30 p.m., Fri., Aug.1, 2014)

A U.S. District Court has finalized a lawsuit settlement between Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services and hundreds of people living near the landfill.

Under the settlement, Republic will pay a total of at least $4.6 million to compensate 947 current and former area residents.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Soil tests conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show no health risk from radiation at the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex.

The agency released its final report on the athletic complex on Thursday.

The complex sits less than a mile from the West Lake Landfill, which holds World War II-era radioactive waste illegally dumped there in the 1970s.

U.S. EPA Region 7

Preliminary radiation screening at the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex (BMAC) suggests the ball fields do not pose a risk to public health.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the results on Thursday.

The athletic fields are less than a mile from the West Lake Landfill, an EPA Superfund site containing radioactive waste.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5/9/14 after EPA press conference:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will soon begin testing a popular athletic complex in Bridgeton for radiation.

Radiation screening at the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex (BMAC) is scheduled to begin the week of May 19.

In a written statement released on Wednesday, EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said the planned testing was prompted by a need to resolve “public concerns generated by residents using donated radiation detection equipment.”

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

A lawsuit filed on Friday alleges that radiation from the West Lake Landfill has spread into surrounding neighborhoods, contaminating properties there.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintains that the public is not at risk.

Attorney Daniel Finney, Jr., filed the suit on behalf of John James, who has lived near the landfill in Bridgeton for more than 30 years.

(Sarah Skiold-Hanlin, St. Louis Public Radio)

A new analysis by scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests there could be risks to area residents if an underground fire were to reach radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill.

An underground fire has been smoldering at the adjacent Bridgeton Landfill for more than three years and is now about 900 to 1,000 feet from the radioactive material.

Pages