Document shows some EPA officials saw West Lake waste removal as ‘feasible’

Removing the hottest radioactive waste within the West Lake Landfill is feasible and could reduce long-term risks from the Bridgeton-area landfill, an internal Environmental Protection Agency report says.

The report, finalized in February 2013 and released by the agency voluntarily Wednesday, bolsters the arguments of environmentalists in the region who have long advocated for removing the radioactive waste rather than simply capping the unlined landfill.

The EPA never moved forward with its 2008 proposal to cap the radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton. The agency has cited community backlash for the reconsideration, and additional West Lake studies over the last several years were prompted at least in part by an internal EPA peer-review group, known as the National Remedy Review Board.

In its report, the board, made up of other EPA scientists who review Superfund cleanup decisions, noted that the radioactivity of the site is expected to increase by a factor of 35 over the next 1,000 years as uranium’s daughter product thorium decays into radium. Saying the landfill contains “potentially significant amounts” of radiation that are “highly toxic,” it recommends taking a close look at removing the hottest contamination.

The EPA and the lead potentially responsible party, landfill owner Republic Services, have cited cost analyses estimating capping the landfill would run $40 million, while removing the waste would cost at least 10 times that.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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