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BRIDGETON, MO (KTVI)– Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster spent three hours today going over yesterday’s surface fire at the Bridgeton Landfill.

A motorist saw a plume of thick black smoke billowing from the landfill.  Bridgeton police were called.  They in turn called the Pattonville Fire District.

At the time no one outside of Republic Services knew what was burning or for how long.  It was almost 90 minutes before firefighters were fully briefed.  That’s not the way it`s supposed to be handled. And Attorney General Koster confirmed that Monday.  “I think the protocol was not followed exactly, as it had been laid out.  I think there should have been a heightened level of communication,” said Koster.

Pattonville Asst. Chief Matt LaVanchy says the meeting with Attorney General Koster went well.  “It`s reassuring to know the people in the right places, are involved and they`re staying on top of the issue. They`re there to protect the community just like we are,” he said.

The fire was caused by a broken methane gas pipe.  This allowed oxygen into an area under the liner. And the potential existed for the release of toxins.  Something Koster is aware of.   “There have been long standing concerns about fire on the landfill.  Yesterday`s situation showed  that those concerns are well founded.  And everybody involved, Republic and Pattonville fire are going to regroup with increased diligence,” he stated.

Republic Services has to answer to the Attorney General’s office.  Koster filed a lawsuit last spring alleging the company has violated Missouri environmental laws. “What happened over the last 24 hours is informative to the legal case going forward. And certainly gives us confidence we`re asking for the right information from Republic Services and the importance of getting that information for Pattonville firefighters,” he said.

The Attorney General says Sunday’s event confirms his office is asking the right questions.  Last year he brought Republic Services to court over environmental law violations.

Residents worried after smoke billows from Bridgeton landfill