Bridgeton Landfill: How the current situation came to pass -

Bridgeton Landfill: How the current situation came to pass

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Concern and controversy over the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills continues to swirl as nearby residents demand nuclear waste dumped at West Lake be removed.

How did we get to this point? Below is a timeline of events:

Site was a farm field before 1939

1939: Site of landfills is converted to quarry

1950s: Converted to a landfill

1973: Radioactive waste from the Manhattan project is dumped at the site. St. Louis was one place where uranium and radium were refined for the atomic bombs that were eventually dropped on Japan. A private company eventually bought the waste from the US government in the 1960s to extract minerals.

The waste was eventually crushed like rocks or dirt. The company later mixed the material with five parts of top soil to dilute it. 48,000 tons of contaminated soil was trucked to the landfill and presented as clean fill dirt for spreading on trash. All of this was done at a time when environmental regulation were lax compared with today.

1974: West Lake Landfill closes

1990: Site becomes an EPA superfund site. The EPA had a plan to put a permanent cap on the site, but people began to complain about burning eyes and felling nauseous.

2005: Bridgeton Landfill closes

2008: Republic Services buys the landfill

2010:  Smoldering underground garbage is discovered and as the hot spot grew, so did complaints about a bad smell.

In 2013, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster sued Republic Services saying it violated environmental laws, and did little to get rid of the stench and underground fire. Republic Services has spent around $150,000,000 on the landfill.

Present: Koster recently said the hot spot is moving quickly towards the radioactive material, and the two could meet in three to six months, a claim experts later backed off of. The EPA says two the are 1,000 feet apart; Republic claims there is 2500 feet between the two.

Nearby schools districts recently sent out a letter parents about emergency plans if the fire hits the radioactive waste. Nearby residents want the Army Corps of Engineers to take over the site and remove the radioactive waste.

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