Bridgeton Landfill in Bridgeton, MO sits on 52 acres in a Missouri river floodplain near Lambert Airport home to a large underground fire advancing toward illegally dumped radioactive waste in the contiguous West Lake Landfill (EPA Superfund Site.) A recently released fire report indicates the fire may reach the radioactive waste in as few as 3-6 months. The report also warns of risk factors including site collapse, hydrogen explosion and day lighting fire which could disperse radioactive particulates throughout the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan area. Residents of North County St. Louis have already suffered severe health related effects from landfill emissions, out-gassing and off site migration of radioactivity.
Governor Jay Nixon has emergency declaration powers under Chapter 44, Civil Defense, Missouri Revised Statutes, over the burning Bridgeton Landfill which is under the control of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Also, any emergency planning and response (or lack thereof) is his responsibility as the state’s chief executive. He can use his executive powers to mitigate and extinguish the fire and provide proper advance emergency planning if he so chooses.
Recent expert reports made public by Attorney General Koster indicate findings to suggest the underground fire at Bridgeton Landfill continues accelerating north through the neck area towards the radioactive waste illegally dumped at West Lake Landfill (OUI-1.)
One report written by Drs.Tony Sperling & Ali R. Abedini states,
“A key finding of the LFCI testing was that the SSSER / smolder / settlement front has reached GEW 109. This monitoring well is situated 120 ft. north of the southerly line of GIW wells. This result unequivocally indicates that the SSSER has passed beyond both lines of GIW wells at the “neck”. With the reaction moving closer to the North Quarry there exists only a very limited window to take further action to prevent the SSER from once again escalating out of control and causing additional hardship on the community of Bridgeton. Furthermore, allowing the reaction to move forward to the North Quarry would bring the reaction to the OU-1 radiological area.”
"LFCI has determined that if the SSSER were to expand in the North Quarry at the same rate as was observed in the South Quarry, the reaction could reach OU-1 in as little as three to six months. LFCI believes that currently the advance of the SSSER northward is being retarded by the vacuum that is being applied by the two rows of GIW wells. However, once the reaction front migrates beyond the zone of influence of those wells it is not unreasonable to conclude that it may once again accelerate."
The Risk Factors outlined in Section 10 of the report beginning on p. 102 have alarmed many area residents and businesses. Should radioactive waste disperse through any combination of site collapse/hydrogen explosion/day-lighting fire, the consequences to North County St. Louis and the entire Metro area would be dire. A dangerous carcinogenic environment for residents and workers alike would cripple the regional economy.
As Governor, any such emergency would fall squarely in your lap given that it involves radioactive waste. Fire Districts in the St. Louis county area are ill-prepared to deal with this level of toxic emergency. Other first responders will be overwhelmed with related injury and traffic emergency conditions.
You have Emergency Declaration powers you can bring to bear in advance of a full-blown crisis event. We suggest you consult your emergency managers on the state and local level and weigh your options under Chapter 44, Missouri Revised Statutes to circumvent a future incident or catastrophe by abating and extinguishing the underground fire and providing for the safety of area residents and workers.