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Local Residents Testify at Senate Hearing on West Lake Landfill

West Lake Landfill is an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site. Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal is seeking to have it transferred to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A hearing was held Wednesday morning to discuss the matter.

Local residents headed to Jefferson City, Wednesday, to testfy before a Senate committee on West Lake Landfill.

The hearing is about a resolution Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal's urgeing the U.S. Congress to transfer authority for the remediation of the West Lake Landfill radioactive wastes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (USACE) Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP).

View the bill introduction here.

On the West Lake Landfill Facebook group, residents that testified, along with supporters that traveled to Jefferson City, expressed excitement about it.

"Got back from Jefferson City less than an hour ago (from) the hearing for West Lake Landfill and it went very well," Julie Ann Pitzen said. "A huge thank you to Senator Marie Chappelle-Nadal for introducing this resolution and for Rep. Keith English who sat in testified for this resolution."

Pitzen testified at the hearing and said she's lived in North County contaminated areas her entire life.

"I said a prayer before testifying and between living over half my life being exposed to nuclear waste and God's wisdom, I was able to speak what I needed to before the Missouri Senate," she said.

Dawn Chapman also went to Jefferson City.

The hearing for West Lake Landfill went really well," she said. "I urge you to call the senators who are on the committee and ask for their support as well."

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FUSRAP is a USACE project to manage and cleanup environmental contamination, specifically radioactive wastes, that resulted from early United States Atomic Energy Commission activities. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was originally responsible for cleanup until 1997 when Congress transferred authority for cleanup activities to the USACE.

Chappelle-Nadal wasn't immediately available for comment, but texted with Patch editor Candace Jarrett about it and said the hearing went well.

Chappelle-Nadal's reason for the request is this: the EPA transferred all sites in North County, as well as one site in Weldon Springs, Mo., to the Missouri Army Corps of Engineers well over a decade ago. 

The resolution states:

"Under USACE leadership, more than 1-million cubic yards of remediated radioactive wastes have been transported to licensed radioactive waste disposal sites in Utah and Idaho at a cost of more than one billion federal tax dollars and the Corps expects to continue the St. Louis City and County remediation projects for an estimated four additional years. Only one St. Louis site contaminated with MCW radioactive wastes is under the jurisdiction of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, namely the West Lake Landfill, an EPA-designated Superfund site in Bridgeton, Missouri. West Lake Landfill is not a location designed to store radioactive wastes."

Last year, the Florissant City Council examined a resolution for the issue where it would have supported moving the landfill from the hands of the Environmental Protection Agency into the Army Corps of Engineers.

Just across the way, residents have complained of smells coming from the Bridgeton Landfill recently, too.

Rep. Keith English (D-68) sponsored House Resolution 18, which asks for the transfer of the landfill from the EPA to the Army Corps of Engineers. He also testified at the hearing.

West Lake Landfill History

West Lake Landfill covers 200 acres in Bridgeton. According to the EPA website, the area is adjacent to prime agricultural land and is in the floodplain of the Missouri River.

Between 1939 and the spring of 1987, limestone was quarried on the site. Starting in 1962, portions of the property were used for land-filling of solid and liquid industrial wastes, municipal refuse, and construction debris.

In 1973, Cotter Corp. disposed of over 43,000 tons of uranium ore processing residues and soil in two areas covering a total of 16 acres of the West Lake Landfill, according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report published in 1977.

In 1976, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) closed the unregulated landfill.

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