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The construction of a trench designed to keep the slow smoldering fire at the Bridgeton Landfill away from radioactive soil buried at the West Lake Landfill may have hit a snag. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that EPA testing has revealed more radioactive material at West Lake.
The paper reports that Florissant City Engineer Tim Barrett wrote about the newly discovered materials in a letter to Mayor Thomas Schneider. Barrett wrote that the EPA is expected to release a report on the new findings later this week.
Barrett also wrote that the location of the radioactive materials and the results of additional testing will determine how and where the trench will be built.
A group of north county residents want their neighbors near the West Lake Landfill to put more pressure on elected leaders to clean up the site. About 100 people attended a public meeting Thursday night hosted by the West Lake Landfill Community Group and Missouri Coalition for the Environment.
MCE's Ed Smith told the group that the current fire smoldering at the Bridgeton Landfill isn't the first to threaten the radioactive site. "There was a landfill fire in the early 90s closer to the radioactive wastes than the current landfill fire," he said.
That's why the groups say plans to build a barrier between the smoldering Bridgeton Landfill and West Lake isn't enough. They want local leaders to put pressure on the Army Corps of Engineers to remove the soil, as they're doing at other radioactive waste sites.
Missouri State Representative Bill Otto was among the political leaders who attended last night's meeting. He told Fox 2 News that EPA work on the barrier project that had stopped because of the government shutdown is back on track. "They're getting back in the office," he said. "And getting ready to resume the work that they had started or were tasked to do with the landfill."
Bridgeton Landfill LLC released the following statement: "We're eager to resume work with the EPA in conjunction with state agencies to begin the next stage of the construction."
Pattonville Fire officials along with St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger and representatives from County Executive Charlie Dooley's office also attended the meeting.
Organizers are calling on residents to note odor issues and contact their local politicians to make a change.
New air and water tests showed no health risk from the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton. That was the message from the EPA to the big – and sometimes rowdy – crowd Tuesday night at Pattonville High School.
Residents say they are concerned that the underground fire burning at the nearby Bridgeton Landfill could spread to radioactive waste buried in the 1970s at the West Lake facility. About 650 came to Tuesday night's meeting, many demanding immediate action.
But EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks says preliminary studies show there is time to study the situation before making a decision. "That event over there on the Bridgeton side does not threaten the West Lake Landfill," Brooks said. "It gives us time to assess the science, take a look at the engineering and make good choices about it."
Some residents want the radioactive materials removed. Others favor a buyout.
Brooks says all options are on the table, but nothing will happen right away.