(KMOV.com) – Workers with the Environmental Protection Agency were at site of the Bridgeton Landfill on Monday as concern continues to mount an underground fire is moving closer to radioactive material.
Officials say the EPA will be using “sonic drilling equipment” to dig into the landfill and collect core samples. A spokesperson says anyone who remains outside the fenced boundaries of the landfill will not experience any harmful exposures to the radiation as a result.
During this phase, samples of underground material will be brought up to the surface they say under “tightly controlled conditions” for radiation field screening and then taken to another lab off-site for more testing.
The survey is examining the area between the Bridgeton Landfill and the nearby West Lake Landfill to look for a possible location to build a barrier between the two to separate the burning landfill to the one with radiation.
The EPA says it believes this drilling will continue until late February or early March.
The testing starts just three days after Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster asked a judge to force Republic Services to turn over information about the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill.
Koster thinks the owners of the landfill are holding back information that could be critical to the community’s safety and that’s why he’s taking them to court.
Koster said the information the company won’t release puts its own workers, the public and first responders at imminent and serious risk. The information Koster talked about deals with readings of the carbon monoxide levels given off by the underground fire.
Landfill owners have released carbon monoxide data on the southern half of the landfill but not on the northern part, closest to the radioactive waste.
Captain Matt Lavanchy with the Pattonville Fire Protection District said he is worried the public is being kept in the dark about the fire’s location and the risk of it reaching the radioactive waste. Lavanchy said his firefighters would be in the dark about where it’s safe and where it’s not if they had to respond to an emergency at the landfill
Republic Services released a statement saying “we expect to provide additional carbon monoxide monitoring and we believe that the data will validate that the site is safe.”
“It’s borderline criminal to put this community and these first responders in that type of situation,” said Lavanchy.
No date has been set for that court hearing.