ST. LOUIS COUNTY - People who live near the radioactive West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton say it's being treated like a nuclear hot potato.

On Thursday, 5 on Your Side investigator Leisa Zigman uncovered a document that shows in 1992 the U.S. Department of Energy knew how dangerous the waste in the landfill really is. But the department wanted little to do with a cleanup.

A meeting Thursday night gave residents a chance to sound off about that report and get answers to their burning questions.

A panel of experts held an open discussion to educate the public about the radioactive waste and the underground smoldering event in the adjacent Bridgeton Landfill. Speakers say the problems are bigger than federal officials will admit.

"You have a document that points to it being much worse than the EPA is letting on," said Dawn Chapman, a mother who's leading the push to have the nuclear waste removed from the landfill. "These two critical situations are going on at this landfill at the same time and absolutely nobody has control of them. It's time for somebody to step in and take over this landfill and fix this problem. This is emotionally abusive to this community."

The Environmental Protection Agency and Republic Services, the landfill's owner, disagree with the panel and have repeatedly stated the waste in the landfill doesn't pose a public health risk. Spokesmen say it may actually be more dangerous to try to remove the waste.

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