© 2021 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health, Science, Environment
Environmental issues in Missouri are complicated. Communities along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are experiencing worse and more frequent floods. People living near toxic waste sites are dealing with the stress of waiting for contamination to be cleaned up. And to top it off, climate change is adversely affecting the health and economy for city residents and rural communities.St. Louis Public Radio keeps you informed of the most pressing environmental issues in the state and presents the voices of people who are most affected by them.

EPA puts Republic Services on a deadline for barrier at Bridgeton Landfill

Map of the West Lake Landfill
Provided by the EPA
/
The EPA is setting deadlines for owner Republic Services to install components supporting an isolation barrier to separate West Lake Landfill's areas with radioactive waste (purple and fuscia) from the underground fire at Bridgeton Landfill (green area).

The owner of the Bridgeton Landfill is now on a deadline to install several components of a system that will separate radioactive waste from an underground smoldering fire.  

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 7 issued an Administrative Settlement Agreement Thursday that names deadlines for a heat extraction system, air monitors and temperature probes.

The EPA said last December it would move ahead with building the long-delayed firebreak to keep the smoldering at Bridgeton Landfill from reaching radioactive waste leftover from the Manhattan Project in the adjacent West Lake Landfill. Last month, the agency released a map showing radioactive contamination was found just a few hundred feet away from Bridgeton, data which the EPA said would help it determine where to build the barrier.

Recently, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster publicly chided the agency for missing its own self-imposed deadline for delivering detailed plans for the isolation barrier.

On a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon, regional Administrator Mark Hague said construction of the barrier itself isn’t expected to start until next year.

“There are many challenges and engineering things we need to work through, and legal matters,” Hague said. “We’re able to do these ones in the Bridgeton or ‘neck area’ now, and literally we’ll begin working tomorrow on the other aspects of this.”

The settlement agreement serves as a legal document to enforce the deadlines if they aren’t met, including:

  • A 30-day deadline for work plans to be submitted for a Heat Extraction System, Inert Gas Injection and air monitors.
  • A 60-day deadline for a work plan to install an ethylene vinyl alcohol cover over the North Quarry portion of the Bridgeton Landfill.
  • A four-month deadline to complete the heat extraction system after construction begins.

A spokesperson for Republic Services, which owns the landfill, wrote in a statement that the company has been ready to put the protective measures in place for “some time” and remains committed to working with the EPA to implement them.
Follow Durrie on Twitter: @durrieB

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.