Missouri lawmakers demand passing bill to buyout residents near West Lake Landfill
Updated at 6 p.m. with details from a report — As Missouri lawmakers stress that time is running out to provide state assistance for moving residents away from the West Lake Landfill, environmental lawyers claim that the Superfund site has contaminated more homes in Bridgeton.
A report released this week by the attorneys said radioactive isotopes, including polonium, lead, radon and thorium are above naturally occurring levels in four homes in Spanish Village. The same lawyers represent a couple who in November sued the landfill owner, Republic Services, and other companies associated with the waste after having their home tested for contaminants.
St. Louis Public Radio reached out to multiple sources to verify the test results, but was unable to find an expert to provide a comment.
Last month, the Senate approved a bill that could help as many as 91 families in the Spanish Village subdivision in Bridgeton sell their homes to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Spanish Village is the closest neighborhood to the landfill, which contains radioactive waste that sits about 600 feet from an underground smoldering fire at the Bridgeton Landfill.
But the legislative session ends Friday and the state House hasn't voted on the bill that's meant to help residents in that neighborhood.
"We are running out of time to do the right thing and take care of people in my district," said Rep. Mark Matthiesen, R-Maryland Heights.
Lawmakers and residents are worried that the Superfund site has caused local cases of cancer and autoimmune disease. Such claims have been disputed by federal regulators and Republic Services.
Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal, D-University City, who sponsored the bill, threatened to filibuster any issue that blocks the measure.
"We need state action and we need it now," she said Tuesday. "There is no time for games, and I am prepared to shut things down in the Senate if necessary. We are not playing around at all. This is about saving the lives of Missourians, period. Saving the lives of people who do not deserve to live in hell every single day."
Lawyers representing Spanish Village residents are testing homes in the neighborhood for radioactive contamination.
"The truth is that there's radioactive contamination in at least five homes in that one neighborhood and we will continue to test additional homes as people come forward," attorney Winston Calvert said.
Environmental Protection Agency officials also are investigating allegations of radioactive contamination near Bridgeton.
"This has personally affected my family," Republican Rep. Justin Hill of St. Charles said. "One hundred percent of my wife's family has cancer or autoimmune diseases. She grew up a half-mile from the Latty Avenue site [near Coldwater Creek]. Those chemicals are in the West Lake Landfill. So if it's hurt thousands of people of St. Louis County and it remains to be a threat today, this is an issue the entire state has to address."
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