EPA orders action at Missouri landfill

Barrier will be built to help contain illegally dumped radioactive materials.

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January 4, 2016

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 office, Lenexa, Kansas, has announced its decision to proceed with the installation of a physical isolation barrier for the West Lake Landfill Superfund Site in Bridgeton, Missouri, near Saint Louis.

The decision also calls for the installation of additional engineering controls, such as cooling loops, to prevent potential impacts that could result if a subsurface smoldering event were to come into contact with the radioactive materials contained in the West Lake Landfill.

The West Lake Landfill contains radioactive materials allegedly dumped there illegally in 1973. Underground smoldering heat and fire has been a concern at an adjacent municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill since at least 2010, causing nearby residents to fear that the underground smoldering could spread to the West Lake Landfill.

“Finding a solution to mitigate the potential impacts of a subsurface smoldering event is a top priority for the community, and a top priority for EPA,” says EPA Region 7 Administrator Mark Hague. “Today’s announcement is the first step in moving forward with the installation of a physical barrier and other engineering controls to address this issue.”

“We are now working through the highly complex details of implementing our decision and the associated legal steps. Once the plan is finalized, we are committed to providing this information to the public,” adds Hague. “EPA will use all available enforcement authorities to ensure implementation of this work.”

The agency says it will continue to work closely with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as final plans are developed. Construction activities will be carried out under the direction and oversight of EPA with support from the Army Corps of Engineers.

EPA says it will release additional information, such as location of the barrier, once plans are finalized.