BRIDGETON, Mo. — The Environmental Protection Agency released their recently completed findings from their investigation and research at Westlake Landfill at a public meeting in Bridgeton on Tuesday.
The EPA said radioactive waste from World War II was dumped at the Westlake Landfill between July and October of 1973.
At the meeting, the U.S. Department of Energy did claim some ownership of this waste.
“We are funding this because we're a potentially responsible party,” Jay Glascock, with the U.S. Department of Energy, said.
Glascock told a group of concerned residents they aren’t going to stand in the way of the cleanup.
“I want this cleanup to occur just as much as you do. There's a group of folks that need to decide what the proportions are, whenever that is determined. Obviously, all the parties are going to sign that particular agreement,” Glascock said.
The EPA says their research shows the radioactive waste is mostly contained to a 200-acre site at Westlake Landfill.
“Currently, there is no offsite exposure or health risk to the waste that's contained within the Westlake landfill,” EPA spokesperson Ben Washburn said.
But they couldn’t speak to any previous exposure or health risks created by the site.
Residents like Dawn Chapman, with Just Moms STL, who have been fighting for the cleanup of this waste say it’s affected the health of their families.
“I've watched it happen to my friends. I've watched it happen to my best friend's granddaughter ... it was found in utero. So, I mean, I always knew, of course, that it could hit my family. But it's hard to process,” Chapman said.
The EPA investigation shows the material is really deep because waste was dumped on top of it all the way into the 1980s.
They found radioactive material as close to one foot from the surface.
The EPA will now move on to pre-cleanup work that will take months and once that is done the cleanup will begin.
“The Record of Decision amendment calls for a partial excavation with offsite disposal of the radioactive waste and the installation of an engineered cover over the landfill,” Washburn said.
Washburn said the radioactive waste that is removed will be transported to a special nuclear waste site.
He said once the cover is installed over the area, they will also make sure its working properly for years into the future.
“So every five years, EPA is going to come back to the Westlake Landfill and make sure that the remedy remains protective, to make sure that the engineered cover is operating as appropriate, to ensure that there are no exposures,” Washburn said.
The EPA website says the next step in the process is remedial design work and that is estimated to happen between July and September of next year.