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EPA to test areas in Bridgeton for radioactive contamination

Married couple Michael and Robbin Dailey sit in their home in Spanish Village. They allege that the radioactive contamination found on their property came from the West Lake Landfill.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio
Married couple Michael and Robbin Dailey sit in their home in Spanish Village. They allege that the radioactive contamination found on their property came from the West Lake Landfill.

The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to test areas in Bridgeton for radioactive contamination.

Federal officials are responding to allegations made by residents near the West Lake Landfill. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday against against landfill owner Republic Services, Michael and Robbin Dailey claimed contamination from the Superfund site was found in their home.

According to aletter from an EPA lawyer, the agency plans to sample dust and soils at the home and other areas in Bridgeton.

EPA officials have previously said there is no evidence that radioactive material has migrated away from the site.

Original story from Nov. 15 Residents in Bridgeton have filed a lawsuit Tuesday afternoon in the St. Louis County Circuit Court, alleging that radioactive waste was found at a home near the West Lake Landfill. 

The lawsuit names nine companies, including landfill owner Republic Services, the Cotter Corporation and Mallinckrodt Inc. as defendants. The plaintiffs are Michael and Robbin Dailey, who live in the Spanish Village subdivision. According to the lawsuit, sampling conducted at their property last summer found "high levels of uranium decay products, including thorium, lead, radon" in the kitchen, basement and yard. Exposure to such substances can increase the risk to cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

It also claims that dust inside their home contained levels of the radioactive element Thorium-230 that were at least 200 times higher than background levels.

The Daileys have lived in Spanish Village since 1999. Robbin Dailey has long been concerned that exposure to nuclear waste from the Superfund site has adversely affected their health. 

"It was shocking, it was disturbing, it was disappointing," she said. "And yet it gave us some relief. I have accepted the results. They are what they are. And now I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and fight tooth and nail to get what is rightfully due to my husband and I and anyone else in this neighborhood who has contamination." 

The suit seeks unspecified compensation for damages to the couple's property. Robbin Dailey is uncertain if she wants to remain in the St. Louis region. 

The West Lake Landfill, a federally listed Superfund site, contains World War II-era nuclear waste that was illegally dumped there in the 1970s. It sits approximately 600 feet from an underground smoldering fire under the Bridgeton Landfill.

"The EPA has not received any new data regarding any migration off-site of radiologically impacted material from the West Lake Landfill," EPA spokesperson Angela Brees said in an email.

"As we have previously stated, if individuals have new, scientifically valid data that we could evaluate they should share that with EPA. The protection of human health and the environment remains EPA’s highest priority at the West Lake site and all current, scientifically valid, data available to EPA demonstrate no off-site health risk to residents or employees in the local area."

Area activists have long pressed for a voluntary buyout for residents living near the landfill. A news release from the group Just Moms STL has called on the EPA and Gov. Jay Nixon to relocate families immediately. 

“We have not seen the suit, or any scientific data to support its foundation," said Russ Knocke, spokesperson for Republic Services. "For years, federal regulators, state officials and third-party experts have been clear that the Landfill is safe. There has been no evidence that supports a claim for off-site contamination. The Landfill remains in a managed state.”

Follow Eli Chen on Twitter: @StoriesByEli

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the community that Michael and Robbin Dailey live in.

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