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EPA Puts Off Clean-up of Nuclear Dumpsite, As Lawsuits Pile Up and Activists Circle the Wagons

Categories: Environment

2006-Augusst-WestLakeArea1-web.jpeg
Via Missouri Coalition for the Environment
Seriously, don't let your kids play here.
Drey believes the site should be moved out of the EPA's jurisdiction.

The EPA landed West Lake in 1990, when the site was added to their list of congressionally-approved Superfund Sites.

"They've been managing the site with rules that are applied to municipal waste, not nuclear waste," said Kathleen Logan Smith, Executive Director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, adding that the problem might be worse than any agency could imagine.

"We're not just talking about radioactive waste. We're talking about radioactive waste sitting in toxic waste sitting on top of ground water. This is a really dangerous cocktail here."

Officials from the EPA have been trying to figure out what to do with West Lake for over two decades. In 2008, after conducting investigations of the site, the EPA issued a "Record of Decision" for remediation efforts in West Lake. The decision was to put a cover over the top of the site and leave the waste there, while continuing to monitor groundwater in the surrounding area. Activists, residents, and the nearby city of Florissant condemned the non-solution and the EPA has been giving it a second go over the last couple of years.

A spokesperson for the EPA referred Daily RFT to a November 2012 fact sheet they released on West Lake. According to the release, they performed additional studies and groundwater testing in August (which was, if you remember, the driest month ever) and will hold a public meeting in January to discuss findings.

Ed Smith (no relation to Kathleen), Missouri Coalition for the Environment's energy policy director, tells Daily RFT that he's been disappointed by the EPA's unwillingness to work with activists on the site and with state politicians for their lack of interest. He cited a September article in the Beacon in which Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt both vowed to "seek answers" over recent findings that the federal government used north St. Louis to conduct (potentially radioactive) particle-dispersal experiments during the Cold War.

"They won't touch this," Smith said, referring to West Lake. "It irks me that they're concerned with people from the 1950s and 60s who probably aren't even really around anymore, when they could be helping people now, preventing a disaster that could hit them at any time."

Next: A timeline of the West Lake Landfill and history of nuclear waste in St. Louis

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2 comments
suetoo
suetoo

My suggestion to the activists is that they take carefully cataloged groundwater samples nearby and have them tested privately.  The meeting isn't until January, and that gives you time.  Also, take multiple samples at each site you catalog, in case they get "lost" after you send them to an independent lab.  

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