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Methane gas levels up at north St. Louis landfill

By Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO – A warning has gone out to some residents of north St. Louis - methane gas levels at a nearby landfill are dangerously high and that could affect their safety.

The city of St. Louis has been working to cap the old Hall Street demolition landfill for 12 years. Now, the state says methane created by the decomposing waste is way above safe levels.

St. Louis Streets director Todd Waelterman says that can be dangerous if it spreads to the homes around the landfill.

"If you get a buildup of methane in the house it can be explosive, similar to natural gas. That's the concern. And that's why we went into each one of these houses and actually tested. The fire department went on all of the floors, checked all of the cavities out and tried to test it and came up with none," he said.

Waelterman says the 50 year old landfill was built before current regulations went into effect.

"The city took ownership of it 30 years ago or so and we filled it. No material has been placed in it for the last 12 years. And we've working with DNR over the last 12 years to close it, to put a clay cap on it, to seal it up so that we can have it basically closed," he said.

Waelterman says methane monitors are being installed in all 150 homes and businesses within 1,000 feet of the landfill. But so far, he says they haven't found elevated levels of methane in the residences they've checked.