Air monitoring problem reported at landfill

BRIDGETON, Mo. (KSDK) - NewsChannel 5 is learning of more problems at the burning Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill.

On Friday, we learned equipment used by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to monitor air around the landfill wasn't working on January 6.

A report issued Thursday said "DNR were not able to operate the monitoring instruments on January 6 due to extremely cold temperatures."

January 6 also happens to be the day the gas extraction system at the landfill broke down. A spokesman for Republic Services, the company that owns the landfill, says the extreme cold caused lines in the system to freeze and flare towers designed to burn off gasses to stop working.

The breakdown allowed gasses to escape through the flare towers as well as sumps that had to be opened to perform repairs.

Residents told NewsChannel 5 the gas caused some of the worst smells in the area in months. Karen Nickels, who lives nearby, says she suffered headaches and dizzy spells.

Republic Services issued an odor alert while repairs were being made to the gas extraction system.

People living in the area are angry that nobody was monitoring the gasses in the air.

Nickel's bigger concern is for her children and the effects the exposure could have on their health.

"There's no way that this can be good to someone's body to experience these symptoms over and over and over," said Nickel.

The DNR says monitoring instruments were back online by the afternoon of January seventh and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says at that time gas levels were not hazardous to humans. But by January 7 the flame towers were also back online, burning the gasses.

Nickel wants to know what she and her family were breathing and why they weren't told immediately that the monitoring equipment was down.

"Who do we trust? We wait three days to find out the air monitoring wasn't working? Is it working now? Are we going to find out three days from now it wasn't working again today? What am I supposed to do to protect myself?"

NewsChannel 5 tried asking those questions but our calls and emails to the Department of Natural Resources were not returned.

This is the second time this week DNR has refused to answer our questions.


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