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EPA Orders Surface Fire Prevention Measures at Bridgeton Landfill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered surface fire prevention measures at the West Lake Landfill superfund site in Bridgeton, Mo., following a grass fire in late October at the troubled landfill.

The agency issued to order to Bridgeton Landfill LLC, Rock Road Industries Inc. and Cotter Corp. to develop and implement fire prevention measures, according to a news release.

Within 21 days the parties have to submit a plan to place non-combustible material as soon as possible over areas where radiologically impacted material (RIM) is known to be at or near the surface; clear trees and brush from RIM areas; establish air monitoring for the protection of on-site workers and the nearby community; and other measures.

“This EPA order requires swift action by the parties to ensure that the risks of a surface fire, and the effects of any potential surface fire, are greatly reduced,” said Mark Hague, EPA Region 7 administrator.  “EPA will continue to use its authority at the site to protect surrounding communities from any potential threats posed by the West Lake Landfill. Putting a stable cover over the RIM located at the surface is not the final remedy. It is a common-sense engineering control to address the challenge of surface fires until a final remedy is selected.”

The order also requires an incident management plan within 14 days, and the agency reached an agreement with the parties on an enforceable schedule for evaluating remedial alternatives. 

The schedule requires specific actions throughout the next year so that EPA can propose a final remedy to the public by the end of 2016.

The landfill has been the center of controversy. An underground fire, or chemical reaction, has smoldered at the site for nearly five years, which is of particular concern because of radioactive waste that was buried on the site illegally in 1973.

The 200-acre site includes the Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill, which is owned and operated by Republic Services Inc., and several old inactive areas. The Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill stopped receiving waste last December.

The EPA said in October a plan to make sure the fire doesn’t reach the Cold War-Era nuclear waste will come before the end of 2015.

And in November, new reports filed in court showed the site as safe and under control.

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