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Radioactive materials found in West Lake runoff area

Radioactive material has been discovered in a drainage area located in the northwest portion of the West Lake Landfill.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency ordered landfill owner Republic Services and the Cotter Corporation to collect sediment samples in March in response to heavy rains that occurred in late December and early January.

EPA officials have determined that the radionuclides found in one sample taken from the area are consistent with the radioactive materials found at the West Lake Landfill, according to a news release sent out Thursday afternoon. The detected levels of thorium are low enough that they don’t pose a concern to outdoor workers, the EPA said.

The federal agency has directed Republic Services and the Cotter Corporation to collect five additional sediment samples northwest of the drainage area and to perform an overland gamma survey in that location.

State Rep. Bill Otto, D-Maryland Heights, and area activists are calling for more testing.

Otto said the samples already taken should only be a start. He said more samples need to be taken near the landfill to determine the effects of runoff from the last 43 years.

Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.