Bridgeton – The St. Louis Building and Construction Trades is urging Congressional action to address buried radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill.
Ed Smith, safe energy director for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment visited the Trades Council recently to seek its help in convincing Congress to remove the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from oversight of West Lake and place it with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Quoting from a recent report from Robert Alvarez, senior advisor in the Department of Energy in the Clinton Administration and senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, Smith said EPA has not properly evaluated the risks at West Lake and the Corps of Engineers is best suited to address the issue moving forward.
Dumped illegally in 1973, the radioactive waste from Mallinckrodt Chemical Works’ production of uranium for atomic bombs during the 1940s is buried at West Lake, west of Interstate 270 on St. Charles Rock Road.
The danger at the landfill is two-fold.
An underground fire has been burning in the “north quarry” of the adjacent 52-acre Bridgeton Landfill since 2010.
Many in the region are fearful that the Bridgeton fire will move towards the radioactive waste buried at West Lake, endangering the entire region.
The Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) under the Corps was specifically designed to remediate radioactive wastes related to the United States nuclear weapons program. The Corps is remediating every site in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, except the West Lake Landfill.
Smith asked the Council to draft a resolution urging Congress to put the landfill remediation and cleanup under the Corps.
Smith estimates it would cost approximately $500 million to safely remove and properly dispose of the waste at the landfill. The work would be union, Smith said, because the cleanup contract would be with the federal government.
“It’s going to take a bipartisan effort to get this done,” Smith told Council delegates. “We need your help to do that.”
Delegates voted unanimously to have Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Aboussie draft the resolution.