Those living near a landfill complex in suburban St. Louis where an underground fire is burning near Cold War-era nuclear weapons waste say they remain afraid and frustrated despite a government pledge to build a barrier between the two.
In the past, tests have found radioactive materials in the complex that were previously unknown to regulators, raising fears that the extent of the contamination — in terms of severity and location — remains unclear. Maintaining that its data is sound, the EPA, which has regulatory oversight over the West Lake Landfill, announced on Dec. 31 that it is moving forward with a plan to build an isolation barrier between the fire and known waste, but many residents and environmentalists are worried that is too little too late.
“I think this was an announcement about an announcement,” said Dawn Chapman, who lives near the site and is one of the most vocal residents calling for a “safe and permanent solution” to the landfill’s radioactive contamination. “There’s no details in it.”