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Poll: Thoughts on Government (EPA/MO-DNR) Regulation/Oversight at the Bridgeton & Westlake Landfills

Two landfills in St. Louis County ceased accepting trash after 12/31/2004.

Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill, from here forward referred to as Bridgeton, is currently owned by Bridgeton Landfill LLC, and is a subsidiary of Republic Services Inc., from here forward referred to as Republic. The landfill waste mass encompasses approximately 52 acres with approximately 240 feet below the ground’s surface and a total waste thickness of 320 feet. The waste is located in two distinct areas known as the North and South Quarries. Bridgeton was initially permitted on Nov. 18, 1985 and ceased accepting waste on Dec. 31, 2004. (DNR)

Bridgeton Landfill, August 2013. Source: Missouri Department of Natural Resources, click to view
Bridgeton Landfill, August 2013. Source: Missouri Department of Natural Resources, click to view

The West Lake Landfill site is on a parcel of approximately 200 acres in Bridgeton, Missouri. The site consists of the Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill, which stopped receiving waste on Dec. 31, 2004, and several old inactive areas with municipal solid waste and demolition debris. The site is divided into two Operable Units, or OUs. OU-1 consists of radiological areas and OU-2 consists of the other landfill areas, which did not receive any radiologically contaminated soil. In 1990, West Lake Landfill was listed on the National Priorities List making it a Superfund site. In May 2008 a Record of Decision was signed for OU-1, which describes the Selected Remedy to contain the radiological contamination using a modified solid waste landfill cover. EPA is the lead agency for this site. (DNR)

Both now have issues, including a smoldering underground fire at one that some fear will reach radioactive material buried in the other. How did this happen? Could government (federal, state, or local) have done more? Were the companies over regulated? Maybe you think the government response was just right? The poll in the right sidebar is where you vote, the answers are presented in random order.

– Steve Patterson

  • gmichaud

    I recently read were Sweden is literally running out of trash because they recycle and use the rest for energy generation, no landfills necessary. The whole capitalism system in America needs rethinking, it isn’t working, it isn’t creating prosperity and clearly oversight that is needed is not being taken care of, not as bad as a state like Texas, but this after the fact realization of mistakes illustrates the lassiez faire attitude towards business.
    I don’t want government involved in our lives unnecessarily, but it seems they are more interested on spying on its citizens than insuring the safety of the people. I don’t understand burying radioactive waste at this location in the first place.
    I’m surprised this isn’t all labeled top secret, I guess the smell got too bad to do that.

    • Eric

      “use the rest for energy generation” – you mean: burn it, with the chemicals going into the atmosphere. There a reason we don’t do that, and it’s not because we hate the environment.

      • gmichaud

        Eric, I am just reporting on what I read. I doubt Sweden is poisoning their population. Of course America has become so incompetent, as illustrated by the worse outcomes in the industrialized world in many areas including health, the environment and education, I can see why you might be hesitant to stand behind any innovation.
        America is a leader in war and spying though.

        By the way St. Louis used to have an incinerator for trash, not sure about now, it was not used for energy generation..

        • moe

          And they use to burn medical waste at Manchester/Vanderventer and a few hospitals up until it was outlawed.

      • samizdat

        My guess is that at the very least, scrubbers are used. And really, if we’re talking about municipal waste, and plastics and metal of all types are recycled (many EU countries have extensive electronics recycling programs), where are the toxins? Industrial waste is most likely treated differently, and comes under further scrutiny than muni waste.

        As well, there are numerous programs which use the methane generated by landfills to generate power for nearby industry, so there are alternatives to merely putting waste into the ground and forgetting about it.

  • gmichaud

    And fire, what about water? The radioactive site is in bottom land near one of the largest rivers on earth. What could possibly go wrong? How was this site chosen in the first place? Not only that the ground water is high in this area, meaning radioactivity is (not maybe) leaking into the surroundings and the river via underground.

    To me the question to ask is why the quality of decision making is so low, is so poor that the situation was created in the first place.

  • moe

    doesn’t really matter what we think. The problem is there, we cannot turn back the clock. The question is: Now what?

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      I hope to address that next week with the poll results.

    • gmichaud

      While I agree with the notion that we have to solve the problem at hand We also have to understand why such a dysfunctional process occurred so we don’t end up with still more “Now what?” projects. Actually fracking and the poisoning of the water supply is another example of a “Now what?” coming in the future. For some reason (big money?) America does not address consequences of actions.

      • moe

        Agreed on the fracking….it’s been proven to be harmful. As for the dump, there have been changes in regulations/needs/outcomes since those sights were first put in, so I think the opportunity of a repeat is slim to none in today’s environment.

  • JZ71

    20/20 hindsight at its finest. No, we shouldn’t build on fertile river bottom lands that are subject to flooding. No, we shouldn’t build in the urban wildland interface that is subject to periodic wildfires. No, we shouldn’t use nuclear energy because no one, rightfully, wants nuclear waste in their back yards. No, we shouldn’t burn coal to generate electricity – strip mining destroys the land and carbon destroys the atmosphere. No, we can’t build more dams to generate hydroelectric power. No, we shouldn’t drill for natural gas using fracking to maximize output, because it messes with the aquifer and it’s still burning carbon. We just need to switch to solar power, but wait, those batteries aren’t efficient and require special handling for both production and disposal. Bottom line, life is messy. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a cabin with a wood-burning stove and an outhouse or in an urban high-rise. We don’t grow everything we consume and waste needs to go somewhere. The only “solution” would be far fewer people trying to share our finite resources (we need another good plague), but that ain’t gonna happen . . . .

    • gmichaud

      Need another good plague? You are full of great solutions. Yeah and in hindsight JFK shouldn’t have went to Dallas that day in November. Your comments have nothing to do with my comments. As the saying goes “those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

      I’m surprised you don’t call for genocide also.

      • JZ71

        You’re right, “your comments have nothing to do with my comments”, my comments are my comments. We all use energy and we all generate waste, both directly and indirectly, some more than others, and some of it is pretty nasty stuff. Most people could care less where it all comes from and where it all goes, as long as it does go, preferably far away. And with the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, sure, it’s pretty easy to second-guess decisions made at some earlier point in time. My main point, however, is that population growth is the one thing that is going to do us all in. We had one billion people on this planet in 1800, two billion in 1925 and six billion in 2000! More people are using more energy and generating more waste, even if we each, individually, do less, so we all stress the planet way more than it was stressed 100, 200 or more years ago. It doesn’t matter if it’s Sweden, India or the USA, more people mean more impacts, including using land that is likely better suited for uses other than human residential use. We get suburban sprawl because Paris or Mumbai or Houston have ten times more people wanting to live there than wanted to live there a century ago.

        • moe

          Agreed on all your points. And like with terrorist threats, I really don’t think we want to know how many times we’ve come close to the next plague. Our CDC and the other’s are in a race. And if one happens, it will make the Black Plague look like a walk in the park.

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