EPA to clean radioactive contamination found on private property next to West Lake Landfill via St. Louis Public Radio


Ed Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment calls Friday’s findings “fairly significant.”

“The EPA has said previously that the radioactivity is not off-site and it appears the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has found radioactivity off-site,” he said. “So comprehensive off-site testing all the way around the landfill is needed. We have to know where all the radioactivity is before it can be cleaned up.”

Still the report also warns that “it would be inappropriate to use these results by themselves to make definitive conclusions regarding the absence, extent of presence, or potential health risk of radioactive contamination found at investigated sites.”

“You have to have an exposure to radioactivity for there to be a health consequence or a health issue,” Smith said. “The contamination found would have to either be breathed in by somebody or eaten or they would have to be in very near proximity to it…that’s when you have a health concern.”

Previous tests by state experts, as part of a lawsuit by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster against the landfill’s owners, had found radiation had spread off-site. Koster, who is running for governor, has harshly criticized the EPA for missing deadlines in its oversight of the West Lake Landfill.

A Superfund site, the landfill contains radioactive waste leftover from nuclear weapons building during the Manhattan Project.

Area residents have long been concerned that radioactive material was moving off-site and that could be in the adjacent Bridgeton Landfill, where an underground smoldering has been burning for years. Recently, a group of mothers and activists, as well as representatives from Koster’s office, met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy about a possible buy-out and relocation program for people living around the site.

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