ST. LOUIS COUNTY — The owners of the Bridgeton Landfill have reached a multi-million dollar settlement with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office in a 2013 lawsuit that claimed a subsurface reaction was harming the health of nearby residents.
“After years of hard-fought litigation, we have reached an agreement that holds Bridgeton accountable and recognizes the ongoing challenges faced by community,” Attorney General Josh Hawley said. “This agreement provides a path forward to ensure that the site will remain controlled and stable, and that it will continue to be closely monitored and studied under the supervision of the State.”
Then-Attorney General Chris Koster filed the lawsuit in 2013. The lawsuit made its way to federal court in 2015 but was bumped back down to the local courts. On June 29, 2018, all parties involved came to an agreement to settle the lawsuit.
Under the agreement, Bridgeton Landfill, LLC., owned by Republic Services, will pay $12.5 million into the Bridgeton Landfill Community Fund. The fund will be administered by the St. Louis Community Foundation.
The money will be used to “provide compensation and restitution to communities potentially affected by funding projects and initiatives that contribute to the betterment of the environment, health, and safety of the communities affected by the alleged, and related, conditions which existed at the Bridgeton Landfill.”
The affected communities included St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and St. Charles County but those within the four-mile radius of the now-shuttered landfill will be given priority.
The funds cannot be used by an individual, to buyout any homeowners, for lawsuits, reimbursements of damages or losses, or political purposes of any kind, according to the agreement.
Included in the settlement is a $1 million civil penalty that will go to a St. Louis County school fund, $500,000 that will be used for public property restoration, and $2 million to reimburse the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for costs they incurred.
In total, the owners of the Bridgeton Landfill agreed to pay $16 million in restoration and damages.
Furthermore, Republic Services has secured a $26 million bond and agreed to provide $61 million of additional funding to assure future performance of those obligations should any default occur.
The settlement also imposes extensive maintenance, monitoring, and mitigation requirements on the Bridgeton Landfill. Moving forward maintenance and mitigation of the landfill will continue under the supervision of DNR.
Since the lawsuit was filed, Republic has spent over $200 million to address the effects of the subsurface fire by developing a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant, upgrading infrastructure to manage gas extraction, installing a synthetic cover to contain odors, performing extensive monitoring, and performing several other mitigation activities.
“From building a world-class liquids pretreatment facility in a fraction of the normal time to designing a highly effective heat extraction barrier, and from maintaining site systems during extreme winter weather to establishing a real-time odor monitoring and response capability, the Landfill team has chosen to do the right thing for our community at every step,” Republic Services said in a statement. “As a result, Bridgeton Landfill is and will remain in a managed state, and the site has become an industry model for responsible landfill management.”
For more information on the agreement, click here.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.