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Final report on Bridgeton Landfill released, residents say area still not stable

The entire area has been concerning for residents for years.

BRIDGETON, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released the final report on the Bridgeton Landfill which is inside the West Lake Landfill Site off St. Charles Rock Road.

It was a dumpsite for radioactive material following World War II and in 2010, a fire broke out underground not far from that dump site and is still burning today.

The people who were affected by the fumes from this landfill said this report affirmed everything they were going through years ago with nose bleeds and health problems, but for them, this isn’t over and there’s still a long way to go to make this area safe.

“Well, I mean, we lived through it, right? I mean, we were the ones that were at Target shopping and encountered the odor, and then the nose would start bleeding,” Dawn Chapman with Just Moms STL said.

For years, the families and workers around Bridgeton Landfill and the West Lake Landfill Site as a whole couldn’t escape the fumes and the odor from an underground fire that’s still burning.

“It was coming in our windows. We'd have to shut off our HVAC systems at points. I remember one specific point getting into the car, taking her to school, and the whole ride to school, she was crying her eyes out because she couldn't breathe,” Missouri Coalition for the Environment Community Outreach Specialist Christen Commuso said.

In 2014, a new gas and leachate extraction system was put in place to control the sickening sulfur-based odor, which a report from the Missouri Department of Health says, reduced emissions and dropped the health and cancer risks down to a level that’s similar to living in a city. But Chapman said it's not reliable.

“The system did go down when it flooded a couple of weeks ago and then they rushed to get it back on. But yeah, whenever it doesn't work, then it (the smell) comes back,” Chapman said.

The reports said in years prior to putting in the system the health and quality of life of people who worked and lived near it were harmed by those odors.

“The number of people that had not had issues before that suddenly, that was happening, you know, they were having lung issues, and then it was cardiac,” Chapman said.

But unfortunately, there were some unknown chemicals in the air they couldn’t really study, according to the report.

“It's also a concern in the future. I mean, if we were able to create new chemicals, just from old chemicals mixing together, then how do we know that there aren't other things mixing in and the creation of something else, that's even more hazardous?” Commuso said.

And while the extensive monitoring done by the state is largely over, the people affected by the issue continue to dig through data and the problems extending down Cold Water Creek which has even reached Jana Elementary School.

“Right now it's kind of like a patient in critical condition. It's hooked up to wires, it could crash at any time. You know, we are looking for the ultimate surgery, the ultimate fix in things that will make it stabilized,” Chapman said.

The residents I talked to said they really would like to see the air quality monitoring continue at the level it did during this study and hope in the future leaders will be more transparent. 

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