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Republic Services To Build Firebreak Between Radioactive Waste And Smoldering Bridgeton Landfill

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

The company that owns the Bridgeton Landfill has changed its plans for keeping an underground fire at the site from spreading to nearby radioactive waste.

Republic Services says it will now move forward with building a firebreak between the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills.

The soil or clay-filled trench is intended to separate the underground fire at Bridgeton from the radioactive waste at West Lake, which is adjacent to the Bridgeton Landfill.

In a press release on Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it had not yet seen the details of the project.

In May, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster negotiated an agreement with Republic Services, requiring the company to take steps to control the underground fire and the bad-smelling gases emanating from it.

Republic submitted plans including a firebreak to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources this summer, but hadn’t intended to begin building it right away.

Today, the company said it would also finish installing a plastic cap over the entire landfill to contain odors, and dig trenches to collect liquids and gases under the cap.

Ed Smith of the Missouri Coalition for Environment called the plans a good first step.

“With the caveat that the only long-term plan for keeping the local community safe is to have the radioactive waste removed,” Smith said.

Smith added that he hopes the company will offer to pay to relocate area residents during the construction, as it did this past spring.

In response to a request for comment, Richard Callow, a spokesperson for Republic Services, said that “none of the work is expected to increase odors in the community.”

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter@KWMUScience