By JOHN R. EMSHWILLER And GARY FIELDS
Jan. 2, 2016 8:36 a.m. ET
Radioactive contamination from a St. Louis-area landfill containing nuclear-weapons-related waste likely has migrated off-site, according to a study published this week in a scientific journal.
One of the authors of the private, peer-reviewed study, which appeared Tuesday in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, said he doesn’t see any immediate health risks posed by the contamination that appears to be seeping from the West Lake landfill in Bridgeton, Mo.
Still, the findings are likely to intensify debate about how much of a threat the buried waste at the landfill poses to people in the area.
The study’s authors, who include Robert Alvarez, a former senior Energy Department official in the Clinton administration, said they gathered more than 200 samples of soil and sediments from a roughly 75-square-mile area around the landfill. Dozens of the samples contained levels of radioactive lead that exceeded a cleanup standard used in the past by the federal government, the study said.
The new study is the latest contribution to a debate about whether West Lake contamination is moving off-site. In September, the Missouri attorney general’s office, which has a pending suit against Republic over conditions at an adjacent non-nuclear dump, said its experts found evidence of radiological contamination in some trees on neighboring properties. Republic has said its experts dispute that finding.