ST. LOUIS -- The Environmental Protection Agency says there is no evidence of radiological contamination on the fields of a baseball complex near a suburban St. Louis Superfund site, despite private testing that raised enough concern to cause a youth tournament to relocate.
The Cinco de Mayor Slugfest tournament, with 95 teams, was scheduled for this weekend at Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex. Organizers relocated to neighboring towns after Bridgeton residents organized radiation testing that indicated a high amount of gamma radiation in soil near the ballparks.
The baseball complex is near West Lake Landfill. Nuclear waste is buried there near the adjoining Bridgeton Landfill, where underground smoldering has caused a strong odor for several months. The landfill operators are spending millions of dollars to reduce the odor and to build in safeguards to keep the underground fire away from the nuclear waste.
Residents are concerned that nuclear material could have spread elsewhere, partly through the process of hauling it to the dump. An attorney suing the landfill’s owners spent $16,000 on a radiation detector used for testing near the ballpark.
But EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks says they are testing for radiation in a drainage ditch, not on the fields. He says Missouri Department of Natural Resources testing in 2013 showed that the fields are uncontaminated. The agency continues to investigate.
“The results of this testing show that the area remains uncontaminated from the radiologically impacted material in West Lake Landfill and the ball fields are suitable for use,” Brooks said.
Richard Callow, spokesman for Bridgeton Landfill LLC, said, “The best scientific evidence available supports the conclusion that the radiologically impacted materials have not migrated and are not outside the site.”
But Ed Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment said the new tests warrant further analysis.
“I think it’s still completely reasonable for off-site testing to move forward,” Smith said Thursday.