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BRIDGETON, Mo. (KSDK) - Environmental Protection Agency testing at the controversial Bridgeton Landfill site has been halted in the midst of the federal government shutdown, prompting a combination of concern and relief from nearby residents.

The site has been a place of controversy for its potential health risks and nasty stench, caused by the underground waste fire in the landfill that has been burning for three years.

The landfill's ownerintends to build a dirt-filled trench to keep the underground fire from crossing over into a nearby federal superfund site where there is radioactive waste. But, to build the trench, the EPA needs to conduct testing - testing that can't be completed due to what the agency says is a shortfall in funding.

"In accordance with the agency's Contingency Plan for Shutdown...the agency has determined that the GCPT field work at the site scheduled to begin Oct. 1 is not necessary to address an imminent threat to public health," Regional Administrator Karl Brooks wrote in a letter, "and thus the agency is unable to perform the necessary oversight of fieldwork until the agency funding to resume operations is enacted."

On a Facebook community page, Bridgeton residents are divided. Some welcome the delay because of concerns that the testing will kick up harmful chemicals, while others say the work cannot be delayed.