(KMOV) – For months residents have been complaining about the stench and foul odors coming from the Bridgeton Landfill as awful smelling gases from the heat built up underground and filled the air. Now it appears there are even more problems.
Neighbors have told News 4 crews hit a small pocket of gas, causing an explosion. But one fire official stopped short of using the word, saying crews hit a “void space with pressurized gas” on Feb. 15.
One resident who lives nearby says the Department of Natural Resources called it a violent forceful event.
Whatever it’s being called, it’s clear it had enough force to damage some equipment. It has given residents who live miles from the landfill new worries about what is underground.
Dawn Chapman, who lives more than two miles away, says she smelled the foul odors in her neighborhood.
She has concerns that what’s burning underground could reach the nearby Westlake landfill just to the north, which has radioactive waste.
“It’s more than just a concern, I’ve voiced that concern to the DNR,” she said. “It’s a valid concern because as a fire, it’s burning up, down, lateral.”
Chapman and some others in her neighborhood are forming a grass-roots committee to try and spread the word about what they see as a growing danger.
“They’re starting to get concerned, even now I feel only 50 percent know what’s going on, 50 percent know there’s a landfill fire two and a half miles away,” she said.
Republic Services out of Arizona operates the landfill. Two years ago, it found underground temperatures were increasing dramatically and began drilling to reduce the heat, in the process releasing the smelly gas.
The company has said repeatedly that because the landfill sits in a huge limestone quarry that acts as a barrier under the ground, there’s no way any sort of fire could reach Westlake.
“Isn’t that the same thing they said about the Titantic,” said resident Mark Neels. “I’m a historian by trade and what I’ve discovered is that hypotheticals have a funny way of becoming reality.”
News 4 attempted to reach Republic Services by phone, but have yet to hear back.