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EPA delays radioactive waste cleanup at Bridgeton's West Lake Landfill

Atomic waste from 1973 is sitting on the surface of the landfill. EPA found more radioactive material than they anticipated from their most recent testing samples.

BRIDGETON, Mo. — When Dawn Chapman moved to Bridgeton in 2002, she didn't know her house was two miles away from radioactive waste in the West Lake Landfill.

"You can't buy a house that has lead paint and people know about it. That has to be disclosed. Mold. All that stuff, you have to disclose that, but the government does not have to disclose its own radioactive waste," Chapman said.

The atomic waste was illegally dumped in the landfill back in 1973. The Environmental Protection Agency took it over in 1990 as a Superfund site. 

In addition, a smoldering underground fire was found in 2010 at the nearby Bridgeton Landfill which could threaten the radioactive material.

"We want them to find the areas where it's highly radioactive," Bridgeton Mayor Terry Briggs said.

Briggs met with EPA representatives in a private meeting Wednesday night to discuss the findings from their samples.

"They do test boards and that's great, but every time they do that, that's another 30-60 days before they get results and it just keeps pushing it back," Briggs said.

EPA had a plan for a $205 million clean-up project, that has now been delayed after finding more extensive radioactive waste.

"When are we actually going to see the dirt excavated, trucked out of Bridgeton and taken off to a proper storage site? We don't have any date on that," Briggs said.

"This is the Department of Energy's waste," Chapman said.

The prolonged exposure is linked to major health problems, even cancer, posing risks for families like Chapman's.

"This community wants the viewers to understand, someone with a sick kid, others that are sick, that the government created this waste," Chapman said.

The EPA listed potential responsible parties known as PRPS.

That includes private companies and the Department of Energy that are on the hook for the cleanup cost.

Mayor Briggs is concerned that the continued delays and rising costs may cause the PRPs to sue and further prolong the process.

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