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Friday
May312013

Landfill fire near radioactive waste dump raises alarm in St. Louis

Kay Drey, Beyond Nuclear board member and long-time watchdog on West Lake landfillIn early May, Rolling Stone quoted Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey (photo, left), regarding a municipal garbarge dump fire burning underground precariously near a radioactive waste dump near St. Louis.

Kay is a long-time watchdog on the West Lake landfill, a radioactive waste dump in the Missouri River floodplain near St. Louis. Mallinckrodt Chemical Co. processed Belgian Congo uranium during the secret Manhattan Project race to develop the atomic bomb in the 1940s. Those radioactive wastes were then dumped at the West Lake landfill in 1973. EPA wants to abandon them in place. Kay has long worked to have them removed from the Missouri River floodplain, not far upstream from St. Louis drinking water supply intakes.

Now the Associated Press/New York Times and St. Louis Magazine have reported on "the possibility of a slow-moving disaster right before our eyes," in the words of Ed Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. The former article focuses on the health risks to nearby communities if the fire reaches the radioactive waste dump, while the latter article focuses on the health damage that the radioactive wastes may have already inflicted, especially in local children downstream.