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A Missouri Department of Natural Resources on-site inspector detected elevated levels of benzene at the Bridgeton landfill’s perimeter substantially in excess of site-specific standards established by the Missouri Department of Health.

The Bridgeton landfill, a subsidiary of Republic Services, has drawn the ire of neighboring businesses and residents ever since an underground fire was detected there over three years ago.

Bridgeton is a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is overseeing the cleanup of the radioactive waste in the nearby Westlake landfill, has stated that the landfill does not pose a health risk.

“The release of benzene by Republic into the environment at the Bridgeton Landfill is unacceptable,” Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement. “Despite the order Republic agreed to more than a year ago, the company still does not appear to have the situation under control. My office is asking the court to compel Republic to take additional steps to prevent any such future release of hazardous material into the air.”

Attorney General Koster demands additional remedial measures by Republic Services to protect public health and the environment.

In a filing in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Koster is seeking a preliminary injunction for more aggressive landfill management by Republic, as well as additional reimbursement to the state of Missouri for its monitoring of the site. Specifically, Koster asked the court to order:

  • Installation of additional control systems to prevent hazardous substances, such as benzene, from entering the air around the site;
  • Additional comprehensive air sampling for hazardous substances, including benzene and other volatile organic compounds;
  • Additional odor-control measures; •Enhanced monitoring of the slope and stability of the landfill itself.

Koster also asked the court to order Republic to reimburse the state an additional $315,000 for site monitoring expenses. Previously, Republic agreed to reimburse the state for costs associated with oversight of the landfill, up to $900,000. However, the state’s costs associated with monitoring the landfill have thus far exceeded $1.2
million.

The state’s demand for additional cost recovery under the Agreed Order does not affect future demands for damages and penalties expected to be a part of the underlying pending lawsuit against Republic.

Recognizing that potential threats to public safety may extend beyond the boundaries of the Westlake site, Koster also submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) demanding raw sampling data and results from previous radiological testing along roadways leading to the Westlake Landfill.

Koster called upon the EPA to test for radiological contamination along certain roadways leading to the Westlake Landfill, focusing specifically on routes used during the 1970s to haul radiological material from the Latty Avenue storage facility to Westlake. The EPA has declined to conduct new testing, stating as its rationale that similar sampling was conducted prior to 2005.

In response, Koster demanded that EPA and the Army Corps share the raw data with the State of Missouri; however, both agencies have indicated they are now having difficulty locating the data. Koster’s FOIA request is a formal demand that such data be immediately found and produced.

Published in the August 2014 Edition of American Recycler News