BRIDGETON, Mo. (KSDK) - A new report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows there may be more radioactive waste buried beneath the Westlake landfill than originally thought.
The report says crews found a pocket of radioactive material beneath the surface outside the are where waste was known to have been dumped. Previous reports by the EPA had claimed the radioactive material was all contained further north.
The discovery was made during soil sampling that began in late October. It's the first step toward building a trench that's supposed to separate the radioactive material in Westlake from the undgerground fire smoldering beneath the adjacent Bridgeton Landfill.
Richard Callow, a spokesman for the owners of Westlake, says the material isn't new it's just a new discovery. He and the EPA insist the find doesn't pose a public health risk.
"It's still in an area where you'd have to be tresspassing on our property to see it and there's nothing in the air, nothing on the ground and it's 30 feet beneath the surface," said Callow.
Dawn Chapman of Maryland Heights lives within a few miles of the landfill. Her concern is that this discovery was just made despite the EPA having control of the landfill for decades. She's worried there may be more unknown waste dumps inside the landfill and is calling for more testing of the entire site.
"I don't care if you have to spend money to stick 5,000 probes in the ground. You find this stuff, map it and then come back and tell me that I'm safe," said Chapman.
Callow and the EPA say testing will continue, but in the area surrounding the proposed trench.
"We want to make sure we don't disturb any of the radioactive material as we continue the project," said Callow.
Chapman and her allies at the Missouri Coalition for the Environment are pushing for Congress to turn control of Westlake over to the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps is already working to clean up other radioactive waste sites around St. Louis including the St. Louis Airport site.
"It's like going to a doctor," said Chapman. "If I have cancer I want to go to the surgeon best trained to remove it. This landfill is a cancer."