St. Charles County frustrated over landfill fire burning near radioactive waste

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BRIDGETON, MO (KTVI) – A smoldering fire beneath one landfill and radioactive waste under another continues to have people in Bridgeton and St. Charles on edge. Now, on the eve of another public meeting to discuss the situation, concerns are growing with word of emergency plans to deal with radioactive fallout.

The fire burns beneath the Bridgeton landfill, and the waste is next door at the West Lake landfill. Both are owned by Republic Services, and the company has repeatedly insisted that there is no immediate danger. But Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says he’s being told the fire is drawing closer to the waste and has sued Republic.

Caught in the middle are people like Samantha Bova. She lives with her two small kids near downtown St. Charles, and is concerned about what might happen if the worst case scenario were to surface.

“I think it’s pretty crazy to think about it being so close to home and that really scares me being a parent,” she said.

Many parents have been thinking about it this week. St. Charles city schools was among four districts sending letters home to parents acknowledging emergency plans for a radioactive cloud coming from the landfill.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann says it’s tough to know what to do because of conflicting stories about the level of danger.

“At this point I’m not sure we should be concerned about what’s going to happen, but we should be concerned that everything is done to get to the truth because as you said here we have people telling two different stories. We almost have to prepare as an emergency management agency for the worst case scenario,” he said.

But he says the fact that planning is being done should reassure people more than it should worry them.

“What people have to understand is our emergency people, they spend a lot of time planning for disasters which hopefully will never happen and probably will never happen.   But you still have to prepare for it.”

That community meeting regarding the landfill situation is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Bridgeton. The address is 12567 Natural Bridge Road.