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Thursday
Feb012018

EPA orders partial cleanup at St. Louis nuclear waste site

As reported by the Washington Post.

Culminating a 27-year process, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has agreed to a $236 million partial clean up of the West Lake Landfill radioactive waste dump, rather than a complete clean up estimated to cost $700 million. (Actually, considering the wastes were illegally dumped there in the early 1970s, it's been a nearly half-century process; and considering the wastes are from the earliest days of the Manhattan Project, it's been more than a 75-year process!) The article does not report on where the radioactive contamination will be transferred to.

Dawn Chapman, co-founder of the West Lake Landfill neighborhood watch-dog group Just Moms STL northwest of St. Louis, MO, is quoted in the article:

“We were hoping for full, 100 percent excavation. But we know that would be difficult to accomplish,” said Dawn Chapman, co-founder of Just Moms, an activist group that has long pushed for an extensive excavation and relocation of families near the landfill.

She said her group views Thursday’s decision as a hard-fought victory, but one that is far from guaranteed, given that the public comment and cleanup process is likely to unfold over years. “We have to stay here and watch it and see it through,” she said. “I look ahead, and I see these other big battles coming. We’re not going to blink, because you can’t … We will continue to fight to get even more [radioactive waste] removed.”

Kay Drey, president of the board of Beyond Nuclear and a decades long watch-dog on the West Lake Landfill, located in the Missouri River floodplain just upstream from major metropolitan drinking water supply intakes, attended the early morning announcement of the EPA's decision. The radioactive waste is the oldest of the Atomic Age, originating from Belgian Congo uranium ore processed in St. Louis for use in the Manhattan Project race for the nuclear bomb in WWII. (The race was one-sided, as the U.S. learned in June 1944, when it confirmed Nazi Germany had abandoned its own nuclear weapons development program.)

EPA's announcement comes just 11 days before HBO premieres a major new documentary about the West Lake Landfill saga entitled "Atomic Homefront."