BRIDGETON, MO (KTVI) – There was an overflow crowd of worried people at a Bridgeton church Thursday night . The crowd was evidence that citizen support to solve potential problems at two landfills has grown by leaps and bounds.
The group Just Moms STL held the meeting. Just three years ago, the group could only dream they’d have a turnout this large. Its Facebook page grew in one month from 4,000 followers to 10,000.
Meagan Beckermann, one of the group’s organizers, said she was overcome by emotion when she saw the many people who showed up.
“This is more proof that it’s real that it’s really happening,” she said.
It was standing room only inside John Calvin Presbyterian Church.
“Unfortunately on Sunday mornings we don’t get quite this many people here,” said Pastor John Shear.
Folks worried about the Westlake and Bridgeton landfills. One has been smoldering for years, the other contains radioactive waste. People are afraid of what might happen if the fire reaches the radioactive material.
The company that owns the landfills has said previously they are safe and monitored closely.
But when county and school officials talk of emergency evacuation plans, people grew more fearful.
“It’s very scary I can’t imagine forfeiting their future,” said Heather Lankford, who has five children and another on the way.
A documentary crew from New York was there, the landfills and the people coping with them are the latest project. Cliff Riley lives in St. Charles County Riley said, “You don’t know maybe the winds are going to shift like they have before.”
Organizers said about 15 people showed up at the first meeting, on Thursday night it was more like 400 people. The personal sacrifice organizers made for years were beginning to pay off.
“A lot of dinners away from the family. A lot of time when you should be playing with your kids, but you can’t. It justifies it a little bit,” Beckermann said.
The EPA has said there is no current health threat, but Beckermann said the group will keep fighting until something is done at the landfills.