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Mo. Dept. Of Natural Resources Asks For 'Legal Action' Related To Bridgeton Landfill

(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated on Friday, March 22 at 9:45 a.m. to add information about air sampling results, and a statement from Republic Services.

The Missouri Department of Resources is asking the state’s attorney general to enforce environmental laws at the Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill.

DNR’s letter asks Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to "institute appropriate legal action to resolve any past, present or future environmental violations" at the landfill.

A fire has been smoldering inside the landfill for more than two years. Environmentalists have warned it’s close to radioactive waste in an adjacent landfill. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the underground fire is about 1,200 feet away from radioactive wastes.

Strong chemical smells from landfill fumes prompted concerns about the health risk to nearby residents. The DNR began sampling the air near the landfill for toxic emissions in February and has found some instances of unhealthy levels of benzene and hydrogen sulfide. The state agency recently hired a contractor to ramp up sampling efforts.

Republic Services operates the landfill in north St. Louis County. The company released the following statement in response to the DNR's letter:

"Bridgeton Landfill, LLC has been cooperating with MDNR and local government officials at all levels as we work to resolve the odor issues at the landfill. We're now looking forward to also working with Attorney General Koster and his team."

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Attorney General's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Follow Maria Altman on Twitter: @radioaltman

Follow Kelsey Proud on Twitter: @KelseyProud

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.