West Lake Landfill Community Meeting Gets Rowdy

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MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO (KTVI) – A showdown with the EPA over nuclear waste at a Bridgeton landfill drew a big - and at times rowdy - crowd Tuesday night at Pattonville High School.

About 650 people turned out.

The EPA`s message:  new air and water tests showed no health risk from the West Lake Landfill on St. Charles Rock Road; more tests would be coming on how best to proceed toward a long-term solution.

For most residents, there was only 1 solution:  get the stuff out of here.
It reminded you of the crowd at a Cardinals game, trying to stir the home team;
But the rhythmic clapping was actually in protest.

The EPA set up poster boards breaking down test findings in another part of the school.
Residents shouted at EPA experts, demanding everything be brought over to the auditorium, where the question and answer session began, minutes later.

The issue has come to a head with the revelation of problems at the Bridgetown Sanitary Landfill, next to West Lake.

Workers are currently capping the Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill, it to minimize odors coming from deep below the surface - where the waste is smoldering.

Residents fear fire will spread underground to West Lake and the 7 tons of uranium diluted with nearly 40 tons of soil and dumped there in the early 1970`s.

There are new concerns about whether that soil was initially toxic, as well.
Resident Jeremy McCormick didn`t want to wait on more EPA testing.

His 1 year old son, Jacob, had a message written on his one-sie:  'For my 1st birthday I want clean air'.

"I`m living there.  It doesn`t make sense for me or my son.  We`re actually living with my parents now up in Florissant because we just can`t live there," McCormick said.

"Based on the weight of the evidence that event over there on the Bridgeton side does not threaten the West Lake Landfill," said EPA Region 7 Administrator, Karl Brooks. "It gives us still time to assess the science, take a look at the engineering and make good choices about it...there are options such as put a cap over it and seal the west lake landfill off.  Another would be a partial removal of some of the material.  There`s a full scale removal."

"There is one other option. Buy out the residents...I`m tired of hearing that the chemicals are within OSHA safe levels. It just doesn`t make sense. I`m not working there.  I`m living there," McCormick said.

"It won`t happen fast. There`s no need for us to make a fast decision. We want to be right, rather than fast," said Brooks.

He said all options were on the table.

Rock Road Industries, which owns the landfill, favors capping the material.
Brooks said a final decision on how best to proceed was likely a year or two away.

Email: Andy.Banker@tvstl.com
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