Possible radioactive waste transport draws opposition

Cooper County officials are strongly opposed to the potential transport of radioactive waste from a site in St. Louis to its final destination in Utah. This comes about after opponents to a 2008 Environmental Protection Agency's plan to encase the waste in the West Lake Landfill, want the waste excavated and transported through rural Missouri in direct opposition to county commissioners and law enforcement throughout the state of Missouri.
According to a release from the Coalition to Keep Us Safe, a group representing Missouri citizens, businesses, community leaders, and public offcials, it is advocating that the safest and quickest solution to handling the radiological material at West Lake Landfill is to have the EPA endorse its 2008 decision and encase the material on-site.
"As a proud member of the Coalition, we fully believe the best solution for businesses in St. Louis County and throughout the state of Missouri is to have the material encased on site at West Lake Landfill," Daniel P. Mehan, CEO/President of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce said according to the release.
The release states that in 2008, after nearly 30 years of extensive testing, analysis, and public discussion, the EPA decided that encasing the radiological material on-site under a five-foot structure was "necessary to protect public health or welfare from actual or threatened releases of hazardous substances into the environment."
The encasement remedy would take three to five years to complete.  The remedy would have more than likely been complete today if opponents to this solution had not asked the EPA to reconsider its decision and conduct even more tests.  Now, six years later, many of the same opponents are pushing for complete excavation of West Lake.
"Excavation means up to 40 years of clean-up for Missourians. It means more government studies, more taxpayer dollars wasted, and finally, and most troubling, it means transporting, either on trucks or on trains, radiological material across our state," Molly Teichman, a spokesperson for the Coalition said.
Furthermore, for nearly a decade, the EPA has required multiple rounds of groundwater sampling as part of its groundwater investigation. To date, there is no evidence of leaching or plume contamination into the groundwater. There are no drinking water wells on the property and the EPA has confirmed that none will ever be located on the site.
"As elected officials and the governing body of Cooper County we write in opposition to potential plans to excavate and transport radioactive waste from West Lake Landfill through rural Missouri. We strongly support the Coalition to Keep Missouri Safe in its efforts to oppose solutions that are slow, dangerous and expensive. The Commission respectfully asks that the EPA and our federal delegation support plans for encasement not excavation," The Cooper County Commission stated in a letter to the Coalition.
"Hauling radioactive waste out of a landfill and through rural Missouri is not a way to solve West Lake Landfill’s problems. The EPA’s plan to entomb the waste is appropriate," Missouri Representative Dave Muntzel stated.
Cooper County Sheriff Jerry Wolfe also voiced opposition to the potential movement of waste.
"While the current situation at the West Lake Landfill is unfortunate, I have never known the EPA to not go above and beyond the call of duty to protect people and the environment from dangers. The agency’s current plan to work with private industry to “entomb” the radioactive waste at the site and barricade it from other threats in the area is beyond adequate," Wolfe stated in a letter to the Coalition.
The Coalition has launched its website, www.CoalitiontoKeepUsSafe.com, where the public can learn more about the issue.
The Coalition is sponsored by Bridgeton Landfill LLC and Rock Road Industries, Inc. Coalition members are promoting encasing the radiological material on-site as the safest and most effective option for protecting the communities near the landfill as well as across the state of Missouri. These individuals understand the frustration and concern experienced by those living and working near the landfill. Encasing the material on-site allows for a solution in the near future instead of postponing the remediation work that would most likely take decades to complete.