Nuns Pray For Bridgeton Landfill Cleanup

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BRIDGETON, MO (KTVI)--A group of Catholic nuns on a school bus toured landfills in Bridgeton Friday and prayed for the "damaged land to heal."

An underground fire in the Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill has sent a strong odor into the surrounding area.  The fire worried neighbors because radioactive waste is buried in the adjoining West Lake Landfills along St. Charles Rock Rd.

Republic Services operates the facilities and is working to cap the landfill where the fire broke out.  A spokesman said the firm is operating West Lake Landfills according to a federal order.  But that has not diminished the worries of residents and members of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary.

"Republic has been trying to cooperate and saying they are doing as much as they can do, but there seems to be no plan of action if the fire increases beyond the interceptor wells," said Gale Thackery, a staff member for the FSM order.

About fifty sisters participated in the bus tour and stood on a parking lot overlooking the Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill to pray.  They said, "We pray your healing upon this sad and sick place."

Sister Jeanne Derer explained the order's involvement in the social issue is tied to their mission.  "We have a commitment to compassionate care of creation and when we found out, when we became more aware of what was happening or not happening in this area then we said this is something we need to give our attention to."

The nuns want the Army Corps of Engineers to take over the problem and move the waste to a nuclear licensed landfill.  The EPA is still testing the area for any migration of the radioactive material.

The next public meeting will be June 25 at 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Pattonville H.S. auditorium,  2497 Creve Coeur Rd, Maryland Heights.

An EPA aerial survey done in March showed the radioactive material which was used as fill between layers of garbage in the 1970s is secure.

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