Dates set for cleanup of West Lake Landfill

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 5:51 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV) -- The E.P.A. recently completed soil sampling in and around West Lake Landfill, a preliminary step in a plan to remove a significant amount of the buried radioactive waste. According to a West Lake Landfill dashboard, 998 soil samples were taken and 452 tested positive for radioactive material.

Dawn Chapman is with the community group Just Moms STL, which has been fighting to clean up the landfill for a decade.

“I am thankful no matter how hard it is to look at the data that we know how bad this site is because now we can work towards fixing it,” she said.

According to the E.P.A. website, the removal of radioactive waste could begin as early as March 2024 in one area and in July of that year in another area. The plan is to remove 70 percent of the radioactivity.

An E.P.A.-created map shows radioactive material was found in places that were previously unknown. Radioactive material was found near Bridgeton Landfill, the neighboring closed municipal landfill experiencing an ongoing subsurface smoldering event. Tests also showed radioactive waste in 16 locations outside the perimeter fence, including a ditch north of the landfill along St. Charles Rock Road with no barriers around it.

“I look at those locations, and I think who cut the grass, who did what there, you know. Historically, there can be no doubt that there was exposure at West Lake,” said Chapman.

Bridgeton mayor Terry Briggs told News 4 he was pleased the testing was completed and hoped there wouldn’t be any further delays to the cleanup.

“My concern is getting the responsible parties to pay for this. It’s going to be expensive,” he said.

The landfill is contaminated with radioactive waste from the processing of uranium for the Manhattan Project and later for nuclear weapons production. The material was illegally dumped in the landfill in the 1970s. West Lake Landfill became a Superfund site in 1980.