April 27, 2016
A lawsuit between Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and Republic Services, who operates the Bridgeton and West Lake Landfills has been sent back to St. Louis County’s circuit court by a federal judge.
The lawsuit charges Republic with eight counts of violating Missouri environmental laws. It seeks orders requiring Republic to extinguish an exothermic reaction within the landfill and take action to control odors, emissions and hazardous liquid releases caused by the fire. In October, Republic had removed the lawsuit by Attorney General Chris Koster to federal court.
The West Lake Landfill began as a quarry operated by the Westlake Quarry Company in 1939. Landfilling operations began in the 1950s. In 1973, 8,700 tons of barium sulfate and 39,000 tons of soil from the Manhattan Project were illegally dumped at the site. This was later discovered and, as a result, West Lake officially became listed as a Superfund site in 1990.
The landfill contains two operable units (OU-1 and OU-2), both of which contain radioactive material. Soil samples indicate the presence of leached barium sulfate cake, Uranium and Thorium. But the radiation levels are low.
An underground self-sustaining exothermic reaction has smoldered on the site for about five years. It’s being monitored because of its proximity to the radioactive waste. The Environmental Pr0teciton Agency is planning to put an isolation barrier in place to make sure the fire does not reach buried waste, a process that Republic says will be expedited by the ruling.
“Today’s ruling is based on assurances made by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office that the State will not seek any court order concerning the radiologically impacted material at the West Lake Landfill Superfund Site,” said Russ Knocke, a spokesperson from Republic. “This effectively removes those issues—once and for all—from the state’s lawsuit against Bridgeton Landfill. It also clears a path for the EPA to finish its remaining isolation barrier planning and final remedy selection, without further litigation involvement by the State of Missouri.
The full ruling is below: