(By guest Molly Teichman, spokeswoman for the Coalition To Keep Us Safe)
Today, we learned that a deposition of the lead witness for the elected official taking the landfill to task, Attorney General Chris Koster (D-Missouri), may have overstated the risks involved with the site. Also, confirmation that there is no public health risks associated with the site.
The West Lake Landfill contains small amounts of radiological material from testing conducted during World War II. The landfill is in an old limestone quarry adjacent to another old quarry site, the Bridgeton Landfill.
The Bridgeton site contains an underground fire that Koster claimed was moving towards the radiological material. Koster, who is also running to be the state’s next governor, has issued reports saying the “fire” would reach the radiological impact within three to six months, causing panic throughout the region.
In addition, while stating the reaction was getting closer to the West Lake site, Koster offered no explanation of how it would traverse through limestone walls. And even if it did, studies showed the increased underground temperature would have no negative effect on public health.
In depositions recorded on October 15, 2015, Koster’s lead expert, Dr. Tony Sperling, seemed to take back his earlier statements, saying the event is not a “fire,” that it is contained within the original limestone quarry walls and it is not close to the radiological material.
Meanwhile, Koster is using the issue of taking on a big corporation that didn’t even own the site until recently, as a campaign theme. Unfortunately for the St. Louis region, the hysteria is causing locals to panic: practicing sheltering in place, creating emergency evacuation plans for schools and shuttering local businesses… all for an event that appears impossible to occur and even more unlikely to result in harm.
In 2008, the Bush Administration’s EPA announced a plan to cap the West Lake Landfill to end concerns at the site. However, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment stated that was not enough. Seven years later, the EPA is still studying their previous plan while school districts, concerned citizens and business owners wait for some type of resolution.
Meanwhile, Koster has used the opportunity to cause panic in the region, ahead of a 2016 trial that is sure to bring him statewide attention in his simultaneous gubernatorial campaign.
Sen. Blunt (R-MO) has suggested transferring the site from the EPA to the Corps of Engineers, which will further delay cleanup and likely lead to full excavation and transportation through the region. This process would take nearly 40 years to complete and be at least originally done at taxpayer expense.